VINCI Construction UK Ltd., and sister VINCI company – Freyssinet International & Cie, have created a joint venture to revolutionise the delivery of offshore wind farms. Developed with support from the Carbon Trust by GBF®, a consortium of Gifford, BMT Nigel Gee, and a specialist arm of Freyssinet – the alliance’s low cost, low risk and low impact approach includes a radical solution for deploying foundations without the need for costly specialist vessels or heavy lifting at sea. The team’s approach also includes a manufacturing process for assembling entire wind-turbine structures onshore before deploying them at sea.
The team’s product comprises a Gravity Based Foundation to be slip formed on land. The tower and turbine will be installed in the construction yard in a continuation of the base production line – economies of scale and a slick methodology will ensure the complete assemblies are produced economically. The completed units will be deployed and installed on the seabed with the assistance of a Transportation & Installation Barge (TIB). The TIB is a low cost, low maintenance dumb barge, built specifically for this process.
Based on UK Government commitments, a six-fold increase in output from wind will be required by 2020. The VINCI Construction UK – Freyssinet JV will construct and deploy the GBF® concept which is set to change the economics of offshore wind farms suitable for gravity bases The JV believes that its methods will enable deployment of turbines in rougher seas and deeper waters than conventional alternatives. A further key advantage is that a completely different supply chain is called upon compared to the better known monopile or jacket solutions.
VINCI Construction UK and Freyssinet International will jointly develop the innovative solution. Close partnerships and collaboration will be critical to the success of the project, and the JV will be working with developers, turbine manufacturers and others, including other companies from the wider VINCI Group to ensure the right arrangements and skills are in place.
There are also considerable environmental benefits to the proposed offshore scheme. The foundations themselves can be made from recycled materials, and the environmental impact throughout the lifecycle of the structures will be minimal. The foundations are designed such as that they can be completely removed at the end of their useful life and hence will have minimal long term impact on the environment once they’ve been decommissioned. While providing local employment opportunities, the projects will also, of course, help the UK to meet its renewable energy targets and deliver sustainable energy in the years ahead.