Companies to Develop Ecological Turbine Base
Building materials company LafargeHolcim in the U.S. and concrete technology provider ECOncrete Tech (Tel Aviv, Israel) announced joint plans last week to design and produce an ecologically beneficial concrete scour protection unit for offshore turbine foundations.
Large concrete foundations that anchor offshore wind turbines are affected by hydrodynamic forces that can create large holes in the foundation. Scour protection units protect sediments from being eroded by the currents. The concrete base also reportedly has a large impact on seabed ecosystems.
According to a press release from LafargeHolcim and ECOncrete, the companies' goal is to “design and manufacture a fully-structural concrete scour protection unit that facilitates the growth of marine organisms, while meeting all industry standards for stabilizing the seabed.”
Reportedly the first of its kind, the scour protection would provide “a more sustainable industry and healthier oceans.” The collaboration comes as the Biden Administration projects a 2030 goal to create more sustainability with offshore wind.
The companies also plan to evaluate the ecological performance of the concrete scour units before installation.
“Offshore energy production is a rapidly growing market worldwide, and while there are certainly benefits of using renewable energy, there is also an impact of these giant structures on the sensitive underwater ecosystems,” said Dr. Ido Sella, CEO and Co-Founder at ECOncrete Tech. “We view our collaboration with LafargeHolcim in the US as key to minimizing this impact.”
“For LafargeHolcim in the US, we recognize that there are many paths to achieving our net zero commitment, and most require innovative partnerships and out-of-the-box thinking,” said Josep Maset, Vice President of Commercial Excellence at LafargeHolcim in the US. “The work we’re doing with ECOncrete Tech is a notable example of searching for solutions that enable increased use of renewable energy in an environmentally responsible way.”
The three-year project began in May 2021 and is funded by a grant from the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Energy program, the companies report.
Promoting Offshore Wind
The Biden Administration announced at the end of March that they had developed a set of actions aimed at catalyzing offshore wind energy. The reported actions also plan to strengthen the domestic supply chain and create "good-paying, union jobs."
Outlined in the jumpstart plan, the U.S. Department of Interior, Department of Energy and Department of Commerce have all announced a shared goal to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind in America by 2030, while protecting biodiversity and promoting ocean co-use. The plan involves new federal ocean tract leasing later this year or by early 2022.
According to the President’s Fact Sheet, if this target is met it will “trigger more than $12 billion per year in capital investment in projects on both U.S. coasts, create tens of thousands of good-paying, union jobs, with more than 44,000 workers employed in offshore wind by 2030 and nearly 33,000 additional jobs in communities supported by offshore wind activity.”
The creation of these offshore wind farms would also generate enough power for more than 10 million homes for a year and reduce CO2 emissions by 78 million metric tons.
A major part of the plan involves supporting critical research and development and data-sharing, in which the DOE and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority created The National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium in 2018. This year, the NOWRDC plans to award $8 million to 15 offshore wind research and development projects that were selected through a competitive process.
The new projects will focus on offshore support structure innovation, supply chain development, electrical systems innovation and mitigation of use conflicts that will help reduce barriers and costs for offshore wind deployment.