Composite Towers in Offshore Wind

Composite offshore wind towers

Jules Dock develops composite towers for the offshore wind industry. Towers made of composites are lightweight, resistant to offshore circumstances and incorporate great freedom in design. The weight reduction and maintenance savings are essential to reduce the costs in the growing offshore wind industry.

Maintenance savings are considered the main advantage

Composite materials like fibre-reinforced plastics are used in the blades of wind turbines, but not yet in the tower. Compared to steel, composite materials are lightweight and require less maintenance. There are no welding seams or bolt connections which need to be inspected and the material does not corrode.

Currently the offshore wind towers are made of steel, for instance a 5 MW wind turbine with a hubheight of 90 meter requires a steel tower of 300 tons. The trend of increasing turbines sizes (10 MW and more) requires larger towers, well over 100 meters. The weight of the steel towers increases, which makes installation at sea more and more challenging. A steel tower for a 10 MW turbine will weigh over 600 ton.

Composites towers will be 40% lighter and save tons of kilo’s in the weight of the supportstructure.

The properties of composite materials demand a new approach of the tower design to meet with the required strength and stiffness. The C-Tower design of Jules Dock delivers a weight reduction of 40%. This will save 240 tons of material in a 10 MW turbine. The design incorporates the wind and wave circumstances at the North Sea in a lifetime of 20 years. Currently an integral design is developed to reduce the weight of the support structure even more.

The project started in 2015 and is currently in the phase of production and testing of scaled models. Jules Dock develops and produces the towers in collaboration with research institutes WMC and ECN. The project is supported by TKI Wind op Zee.

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