Atkins wins innovation challenge for offshore wind turbines

Atkins is one of three winners of a competition to create an innovative offshore wind turbine, organised by Norwegian oil giant Statoil.

The Innovation Challenge campaign set design engineers the task of developing Statoil’s Hywind concept and making it available in more markets around the world.

The Hywind is a ballasted steel cylinder, which Statoil says is the most efficient platform for a turbine, partly because its pitch motion sensor is integrated with the turbine’s control system to prevent its action being disrupted by the motion of the waves.  

Atkins’ idea to make the Hywind more efficient is to use multiple turbines attached to a reusable transportation frame. This reduced the draught of the structures, resulting in the following benefits:  

  • The turbines can be towed at reduced draughts. This allows them to be assembled in regions where a deep water inshore location is not readily available.
  • The draught of the turbines can be reduced, enabling assembly against a conventional quayside.
  • Multiple turbines can be towed simultaneously, increasing transport efficiency.
  • It has excellent motion characteristics, akin to a semi-submersible platform.

Chris Cowland, Atkins’ projects director for offshore renewables, said: "The offshore renewable industry is constantly looking for ways to reduce costs. In this instance, we were able to draw upon our talent and expertise across our oil and gas teams in North America and the UK, as well as our renewables division, to develop innovative solutions for the benefit of the industry."

The other winning companies were Japanese maritime engineer Modec and Norwegian ship designer Ulstein.

The Hywind demonstrator was launched in 2009 as the world’s first full-scale floating offshore wind demonstration unit, and a 30MW pilot park is planned for installation off the coast of Scotland in 2017, using five 6MW turbines. 

Atkins and Arup recently began work on what is due to be Vietnam’s tallest building.

Atkins were also recently appointed client’s engineer for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon power-generating project in Wales.

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