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UK Carbon Trust launches offshore windfarm foundation-designs competition

The UK Carbon Trust has launched a multi-million pound global competition to find the best new wind turbine foundation designs to support the next generation of offshore windfarms.

The competition aims to find wind turbine foundation designs suitable for deeper sea water conditions (30-60 m) to be used in large scale offshore wind demonstration projects in 2010-2012.

The target is to deliver a full lifecycle cost reduction of 30% over existing wind turbine foundations for deeper water, which are based on designs for installations close to shore in relatively shallow waters. At present, foundations can account for up to 20% of wind energy project costs, especially in deep water.

Tom Delay, Chief Executive of the Carbon Trust, says: “This global competition is an opportunity for the very best designers to contribute to the future of this essential new industry. It’s time for Britain to be bold and offshore wind is a great example of a technology that with will deliver significant carbon reductions and huge economic value to the UK.”

Adam Bruce, Chairman of the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA), adds: “The Carbon Trust’s initiative comes at a crucial point in the development of the UK’s offshore wind sector. In order for Round 3 to deliver up to 25 GW of capacity, we need to address the technological challenges of offshore deployment now. This competition will help retain the UK’s advantage as the key destination for large scale offshore wind investment.”

Entries will be sought from engineers, designers, academics, and research institutes from across the world. Each wind turbine foundation design will be assessed by an expert panel of judges with short-listed entries receiving up to £100,000 for detailed assessment of the design concepts. The final winners will have their designs built and installed with funding from a consortium including the Carbon Trust.

By 2020 up to 15,000 new wind turbines foundations are estimated to be required with a global market worth up to £2.5 billion which shows clear market potential for the winning designs.

The competition closes on 15 June.

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