Support Structures for Offshore Wind Turbines

Article published on Wednesday, 05 June 2013

Overview

Offshore support structures and foundations for offshore wind turbines are proposed and delivered using a range of solutions. The advantages and disadvantages of each design concept are difficult to assess in a comparative and fair way. The support structure designer has to consider a host of issues in order to provide an appropriate solution. These factors are led by both the project and the external environment and include but not limited to:

• Depth of the water column • Mass needing support • Turning and bending forces on the structure • Location specific issues such as wind, wave, tidal and current considerations • Seabed geology and soils • Scour and sediment movement • Environmental impact • Construction requirements • Installation requirements • CAPEX • OPEX • Decommissioning • Materials

In the sections on support structures and foundations, the following definitions have been used:

Support structure: This comprises of the foundation and its method of fixing to the seabed.

Foundation: The foundation of a support structure for a wind turbine is the structural and/or geotechnical component, from the transition piece or tower down to the seabed.

Tower: The tower is a structural component, which forms part of the support structure for a wind turbine, usually extending from just above the water level to the nacelle of the wind turbine and is often, but not always, joined to the foundation by a transition piece.

The support structures for large offshore wind farm developments fall into two main categories; floating and grounded designs. Both types can be further differentiated by their layout, method of installation, structural configuration, and the selection of their construction materials.

According to the structural configuration, the support structures can be sub-categorised into six basic types:

• Monopile Structures • Tripod Structures • Lattice Structures • Gravity Structures • Tripile Foundation • Floating Structures

For this, support structure designs may be utilised combining the features of the categorised structures.

Offshore Wind Turbine substructures, kindly provided by LORC

Offshore Wind Turbines sub-structures - kindly provided by LORC

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