Scotland could become a world leader in producing low carbon concrete foundations for floating offshore wind farms, according to a study funded by RWE, which is now increasingly involved in floating wind.
The study identified potential business opportunities from the current ScotWind seabed leasing round, and calls on Scottish politicians, project developers, suppliers and industry experts to join forces and investigate how best to unlock the potential, while maximising opportunities for local investment.
The research was carried out in partnership with researchers at the UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (ORE), through its Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence (FOWCOE), and was also supported by offshore wind industry experts at the Concrete Centre.
The study focused on concrete foundation designs and tested the feasibility of a production facility, capable of building 33 concrete floating foundations for 15 megawatts (MW) turbines each year with researchers reviewing Scotland’s existing experience and capabilities for producing specialist concrete focused on using low carbon methods and materials.
They found that both Scottish ports and industry have existing experience and skills from producing concrete at scale that can be applied to this low carbon alternative.
In terms of scale of opportunity, the study noted that just a single project would require a volume of low carbon concrete potentially up to four times greater than that needed to build one of Scotland’s largest infrastructure projects, the Queensferry Crossing.
It also said that to keep costs low and reduce carbon footprint, concrete production should take place at or close to the quayside where the foundations would be deployed and identified four Scottish ports – Hunterston, Kishorn, Port of Cromarty Firth (Invergordon) and Ardersier, as well as clusters of potential sites, including the Cromarty Firth and the Forth and Tay, which could potentially meet the capacities required.