Wind Energy Foundation Market: Overview
As reforms and policies stressing on adaptation of renewable energy are increasing, wind energy is expected to occupy a major market share of global power production in coming years. Demand for clean energy as well as depletion of conventional reserves have promoted use of renewable energy resources. Wind energy structures can be segmented on basis of location as offshore and onshore projects.
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Offshore wind turbines are now being installed in deep water also. These structures are extremely huge and heavy. The tower constructed for wind turbines carry weight of blades and also absorb static loads caused by fluctuations in wind power. Along with tower, foundation also carries weight of these structures. Hence to guarantee stability of wind energy project, the foundation should be strong enough to handle pressure exerted by slender structure above it.
Foundation refers to support structure or geotechnical component for wind turbines situated between tower and seabed. In case of onshore wind energy project, foundation is constructed on different types of terrains under challenging soil and environmental conditions. For onshore construction, foundations can be segmented as raft, pile, and well foundations, among others. Raft footing is among frequently used structures and comes in different shapes depending upon various factors such as wind class, type of tower, and turbine capacity. The foundation designs varies according to the project, ground conditions, and the local rules and regulations.
Wind Energy Foundation Market: Segment-wise Insight
For offshore wind energy projects, foundation structures can be classified as mono-pile, jacket-pile, gravity-type, tripod and suction caissons. Mono-pile comprises of steel pile that is situated at around 30-60 ft. into the seabed. Mono pile is among the most used types of foundations especially in Europe. However, they are not considered well-suited for large turbines, which are among latest trends of wind industry. Gravity-pile foundation are made of precast concrete and are ballasted with sand, gravel or stones. In these type of foundations turbines depend upon gravity to stand erect.
Tripod foundations use the principle used in the oil and gas industry and are used for deeper depths. In this type, the foundation consists of three piles which are driven 32-46 ft. into the seabed. Jacket is another popular technology used for deep waters. It is made of steel beams welded together to form a jacket or cover. A floating offshore wind foundation is not used on a large scale. The deep water offshore wind structures are preferred as winds are stronger here as compared to the shores.
However, the cost of offshore wind foundations is a major restraint for this market. The University of Dundee estimated in 2014 that foundations and installations can represent about 25% of the total wind turbine capital investment. Construction of foundations is critical as it depends upon many factors and requires extensive research.
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Apart from load that forms a major factor, motion caused by coupling of translational and rotational platforms and turbines are also considered. The foundation design also depends upon mooring lines for floating systems. Corrosion is another serious threat and requires extensive monitoring. As foundation contributes to major part of wind energy investment, these factors are critically analyzed.
Mono-pile projects are most used form of foundations in Europe. Seabed structures and ongoing projects for sustainable energy promotions in Europe have helped in creating huge market opportunity for mono-pile foundation. The foundation’s market also depends upon the suppliers for materials. The suppliers for different types of foundation are not uniformly distributed globally. This is another reason for mono-pile being used extensively in Europe and jacket foundations is preferred in the U.S. Jacket foundation are light weighted as compared to other types and hence are easier to install. Mono-piles structures’ transportation is challenging as they are quite heavy. This may act as a restraint for mono-pile market in coming years.
Wind Energy Foundation Market: Competitive Overview
Major players in this market are Suzlon Group, Ramboll Group, Owec Tower AS, Offshore Wind Power Systems of Texas LLC, Blue H Engineering BV, SWAY AS, Marine Innovation & Technology, Statoil, Principle Power, Inc., DONG Energy Burbo Extension (UK) Ltd., Bladt Industries A/S, TAG Energy Solutions, MT Højgaard, Fugro Renewable Services, and Dillinger Hütte.