Development, engineering, production and life cycle management of improved FIBRE-based material solutions for the structure and functional components of large offshore wind enerGY and tidal power platforms (FIBREGY)

There is no doubt that the offshore renewable energy exploitation has a large potential to grow. It will greatly help to reach CO2 reduction goals and it is likely to secure Europe’s technical and economic competitiveness. However, the open sea is a very aggressive environment, which may largely affect the maintenance costs of the installations and therefore the overall cost of offshore energy generation. The owners of offshore assets are aware of that and are paying a steep price. A massive amount of steel goes into those assets, and all this metal is subject to degradation, which explains why corrosion accounts for approximately 60% of offshore maintenance costs , . Preventive maintenance is not just expensive but also reduces the operating life of the assets. Besides their effect in the life cycle costs, corrosion effects must be considered in the design phase, which implies to oversize the structure by using larger safety factors and thus increasing the building costs.

The future industry of large offshore wind energy generators is heading in the same destination. Today, despite the convenient immunity to corrosion and superior fatigue performance of Fibre Reinforced Polymers (FRP), none of the structures of the Floating Offshore Wind Turbine concepts that have reached a high TRL are based on those materials . Most of them are based on steel supporting platforms  (and only a few are based on steel-reinforced concrete). If we look at the field of tidal power generators, the use of FRP materials for rotor blades is also common  but, with rare exceptions , the platform structure -the major cost item- is made of steel. This cannot be solely attributed to the youth of the industry. Without doubt, one of the main reasons is the lack of design and assessment (certification) guidelines. There are also different technology gaps that have to be filled to demonstrate the full feasibility of using FRP materials in the offshore industry. Besides, the market calls for cost efficient solutions, and thus, significant lower life cycle costs must be proved in order to ensure market uptake. 

The overall objective of the FIBREGY project is to enable the extensive use of FRP materials in the structure of the next generation of large Offshore Wind and Tidal Power (OWTP) platforms by overcoming the above mentioned challenges. In order to achieve this objective, the project will develop, qualify and audit innovative FRP materials for offshore applications, elaborate new design procedures and guidelines, generate efficient production, inspection and monitoring methodologies, and validate and demonstrate advanced software analysis tools. Clear performance indicators will be designed and applied in the evaluation of two existing OWTP concepts to be re-engineered in FRP within the project. Finally, the different technologies generated in FIBREGY will be demonstrated by using advanced simulation techniques and building a real-scale prototype to validate the materials, tools, solutions, procedures and guidelines to be developed in FIBREGY.

The different benefits resulting from the application of FRP-materials to build the structure and components of OWTP platforms, as well as the different design, production, analysis and maintenance solutions to be developed in the project, will result in a superior life cycle performance, a reduced environmental impact and a positive dramatic impact in the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCoE).

This project has received funding from European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement Nº 952966.



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