Fixed-Bottom Foundation and Support Structure for Offshore Wind Turbines, Optimized for Assembly-Line Production

Period of Performance: 06/12/2017 - 12/11/2017


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Waldemar S. Nelson and Company
1200 St. Charles Avenue Array
New Orleans, LA 70130
Firm POC, Principal Investigator


Increasing the efficiency and cost-competitiveness of offshore-generated wind energy is crucial to the environment and the sustainability of commercial, residential, and industrial development in the United States. The design and manufacture of wind turbines has been proven and advanced, with larger and larger capacities coming on line. The foundations, however, remain a substantial cost factor and design, construction, transportation and installation methods must be created to reduce their cost. This will lead to increased use of this source of renewable energy and decreased impact on the earth’s environment. The NELSON Team will integrate the design, fabrication, delivery and installation to achieve minimum total project cost for completion of an initial project that would include several hundred wind turbines by developing a mass production approach. The design will extend from the foundation below the sea bed, through the 50 to 200ft deep water column to the base of the turbine tower approximately 50 above mean water level. The design of each supporting element (foundation, tower or jacket in the water, deck) will maximize repetitive uses of the same designs, to maximize a manufacturing approach, instead of the current “one-of-a-kind” approach used in offshore structures. The Investigation will include identification or development of likely fabrication facilities, transportation techniques and equipment, and installation methods and equipment. The NELSON Team will develop an efficient structural concept, investigate manufacturing techniques, define new manufacturing requirements for “mass production,” examine existing facilities (e.g., shipyards, boatyards, waterfront fabrication facilities, etc.), consider various means of transportation and installation. These will all lead to a “holistic” approach that can be advanced during the next phase. Development of a project delivery method to sharply reduce the cost of a major cost factor in offshore wind power will lead directly to commercial application. The “market” will support this improvement and provide opportunities for its application in the current growth of offshore wind power. The new approach that will be developed would also be applicable to other offshore structures that are repetitive in nature, e.g., metocean stations, receiving/collection facilities, etc. In addition to the improved financial economics, the environmental impact will be reduced in at least two ways: (1) more economical project delivery means less consumption of resources (mineral, fuel/energy, human); and (2) use of “suction caissons” for seabed foundations will eliminate the noise and vibration of driving foundation piles, the conventional approach.