A flagship £5m, 20-month programme, funded by BEIS, will set out a detailed roadmap for incorporating new composite-based components in the next-generation of offshore wind turbines.
The Joule Challenge Phase 2 project will be delivered by a collaboration between the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult and the National Composites Centre (NCC), part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult.
The project will set out to prove that composite materials can deliver “significant performance and light-weighting opportunities” that will be “essential” to addressing the technical challenge of developing the next generation wind turbine platform beyond 20MW.
A key element of the project is the engagement with the UK composite and offshore wind sectors to gather market intelligence and explore the potential for how these next generation components can be manufactured and delivered, with the emphasis on increasing content of the UK supply chains.
Phase 1 of the Joule Challenge, completed in 2020, proved the importance of composite materials in enabling the next generation of offshore wind turbines.
Phase 1 predicted “impressive reductions” in component masses of up to 60% and a reduction of embedded carbon of up to 55%.
Phase 2 of the project will focus on developing concept components utilising high value manufacturing and design expertise to capitalise on existing UK capabilities.
It will also support the Offshore Wind Sector Deal’s ambitions to drive down the cost of energy through lower cost manufacturing, increasing UK content and developing export opportunities of between £60-80m per year by 2030.
Tom Wildsmith, business development manager at ORE Catapult, said: “We predict that a 20MW prototype, incorporating increased levels of UK content and using lightweight composite materials, such as those that have been developed for advanced aerospace structures could be built by 2025.
“These next-generation turbines will be vital in providing the offshore wind capacity needed to meet the UK’s net-zero targets and there is a huge economic opportunity to be grasped too, through building a UK manufacturing capability.”