The CTC Technology Centre has developed an innovative methodology to analyse the integrity of the structures supporting the turbines used to produce offshore wind energy. This model evaluates the effect of corrosion and fatigue on the structural integrity of fixed offshore wind turbine substructures. The analysis is based on a more exhaustive study of the joints, or grouted joints, responsible for connecting the transition piece, which is the part of the structure to which the wind turbine tower is attached, with the fixed foundation, either a monopile or a jacket.
Benjamin Santos, an Industry and Energy researcher at CTC, explained this methodology in the 37th edition of the International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering, OMAE, recently held in Madrid. This event is one of the most critical marine engineering events in the world. At this highly international forum, the CTC representative delivered a presentation called “Development of a new methodology for the evaluation of the structural integrity of a grouted joint for 10 MW turbine substructures”.
In his speech, Santos explained the particularities of this method of analysis, which involves incorporating study variables other than the traditional ones. The approach taken by CTC begins by assessing the fatigue life of the structures during their entire life cycle. This analysis takes into account all the forces that wind turbines must endure, mainly from the action of the wind on the blades and the waves on the structure.
In addition to considering the loads supported, CTC incorporates the effects of marine corrosion into the analysis. Marine corrosion is an agent that has been ignored to date, but which significantly affects the structural integrity of marine infrastructures.
The presentation aroused considerable interest among the attendees. Grouted joints are a critical part of this type of structure. In fact, some offshore substructure manufacturers are even exploring the possibility of implementing this analysis model in their production processes.
CTC has developed this analysis model within the European IRPWIND project, an initiative in which only universities and research centres can participate, bringing together 24 partners, four of them Spanish, from 12 different countries. All of them have been working towards fostering collaboration and connecting the various national and regional research projects in the field of wind energy since 2014. The aim of international cooperation is to accelerate the transition to a low-emission economy and increase European competitiveness in the sector.