New funding aims to provide firm anchor for offshore wind fa

Seven offshore engineering firms will today each receive up to £100,000 in funding from the Carbon Trust to help them accelerate the development of new offshore wind turbine foundation designs that experts believe could cut the deployment costs for offshore wind farms by up to a quarter.

Over 100 engineering companies from around the world have submitted ideas to the Carbon Trust competition, which aims to identify more efficient techniques for building offshore wind turbines as far as 100 miles out to sea and in waters up to 60 metres deep.

Designs from seven different firms will be shortlisted today, including floating turbines anchored to the sea bed, spider-like tripod structures, and foundations that can be towed to the site underwater.

The winning designs came from: Gifford, Glosten Associates, Wood Group, Keystone Engineering, Offshore Wind Power Systems of Europe, Ballast Nedam and MBD Offshore.

They will each receive up to £100,000 in funding to help develop their designs, while three of the companies will be selected to take part in a large-scale offshore wind demonstration project from 2010, which will be built by a consortium led by the Carbon Trust.

The Carbon Trust hopes that offshore wind projects beginning in 2012 as part of the Crown Estate's third round of licensing will use lessons learned from the demonstration projects to help cut installation costs.

Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, believes tackling the high cost of offshore wind farms is vital if Britain is to install the 6,000 or so offshore wind turbines needed to ensure offshore wind meets the government's target of providing a quarter of the UK's electricity needs by 2020.

"Without new thinking to cut costs, many planned projects could remain on the drawing board, putting our carbon targets and energy security at risk," he said. "We must urgently re-engineer our energy system and building offshore wind farms while creating onshore jobs must play a central role."

Currently the government estimates it will cost £75bn to install the 29GW necessary offshore wind capacity to meet renewable energy targets.

However, with deep water foundations accounting for over 20 per cent of the cost of most offshore wind farms, any innovations that improve foundations could deliver significant savings.

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