Wind Energy Ireland supports ambitious floating offshore wind research project

11 Apr 2024

The Atlantic Technological University (ATU) is pleased to announce the commencement of a pivotal floating offshore wind (FLOW) research project designed to support the FLOW sector. This project has been supported with financial contribution from Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland under the SEAI Research, Development & Demonstration Funding Programme 2023, Grant number 23/RDD/938. The project aligns with the programme’s overall objective of funding innovative research to contribute to Ireland’s transition to a clean and secure energy future.

Anchor and Mooring Selection for Floating Offshore Wind (AMS-FLOW) is a three-year project lead by the Contract Research Unit (CRU) at ATU Sligo. The project aims to deliver a comprehensive set of technical and financial outputs tailored for the FLOW sector. The project partners are University College Cork (UCC), Wind Energy Ireland (WEI), Exceedence Ltd, and Dublin Offshore Technology (DOT) Ltd.

Ireland boasts an abundant wind resource, with some of the world's highest wind speeds. However, extreme environmental conditions, including waves exceeding 30 meters on the west coast, present unique challenges for Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW) technology. The success of FLOW in Ireland is contingent upon the suitability of technology and its cost competitiveness. While turbine and floating structure technologies are mature, mooring and anchoring systems exhibit greater variability. The AMS-FLOW project aims to bolster the Irish floating offshore wind industry by introducing a novel metocean analysis method, innovative mooring configurations, high-quality anchor performance data, economic modelling, and an early-stage anchoring and mooring selection toolkit. The anticipated outcomes will enhance confidence among developers and investors.

At the recent project kick-off meeting, Dr. John Bartlett, the Project Lead, expressed ATU's enthusiasm for the AMS-FLOW project, stating, “This project synergizes with other ATU initiatives in Offshore Marine Renewables (ORE), such as the T-Shore project. We are dedicated to advancing FLOW technology in Ireland and look forward to collaborating with our partners on this project which is being funded by the government of Ireland through the SEAI.”

Key project activities include anchor performance analysis at ATU Sligo (physical and numeric testing), innovative characterization of metocean conditions at UCC, mooring arrangements, materials, and load reduction studies conducted by DOT, and the development of a bespoke techno-financial tool by Exceedence Ltd in Cork. Wind Energy Ireland (WEI) will manage communications and dissemination efforts.

Focused on marine areas most likely for FLOW development, this project, in collaboration with partners from Irish third-level institutions and SMEs, will offer internationally significant targeted solutions, thereby strengthening Ireland's national research capacity.
To address technical challenges, AMS-FLOW proposes enhancements to existing metocean characterization methodologies to ensure greater understanding of design conditions. Furthermore, conventional station-keeping systems present technical and commercial challenges, necessitating innovative mooring and anchoring solutions. The project will produce evidence-based solutions, promoting the use of synthetic mooring lines (moving away from the heavy reliance on steel chains) offering Irish net manufacturing companies an opportunity to meet future demand and create local employment opportunities.

Ken Russell, the Project Manager, said, “ATU is pleased to lead this ambitious research project, which brings together talent from academia and industry to produce a suite of evidence-based techno-economic data that will benefit industry, indigenous supply chain, developers and policy makers.”

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), is Ireland’s national energy authority with a mission to be at the heart of delivering Ireland’s energy revolution. SEAI partner with citizens, communities, businesses, and government to drive the reduction and replacement of fossil fuel usage. SEAI invest in and deliver appropriate, effective, and sustainable solutions to help Ireland’s transition to a clean energy future.

SEAI is funded by the Government of Ireland through the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.