LCA of Three Innovative Offshore Wind Foundations: Comparative assessment of the environmental impacts of innovative technical solutions intended to optimise the offshore wind farm life cycle

R. Camilla Thomson, Maria del Mar Pintor Escobar, Carlo Paulotto, Gareth Harrison

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster

Abstract / Description of output

LEANWIND (Logistic Efficiencies And Naval architecture for Wind Installations with Novel Developments) is a European-funded project aiming to improve the efficiency in the life cycle of offshore wind farms and provide cost and environmental impact reductions. The project focuses on the development of innovative technical solutions and procedures to optimise the installation, operation and maintenance (O&M) and decommissioning stages, and the associated transport, logistical and equipment needs. The project has been running for 3 years, and a number of innovative technical solutions have been developed, particularly with regards to foundation and sea vessel design. Three new types of foundation have been designed: a self-buoyant gravity-based foundation, which can be towed to site and then submerged; a floating jacket foundation with suction buckets for seabed mounting; and a floating foundation. The advantage of all three of these designs is that they can be installed and decommissioned without the use of expensive and fuel-intensive specialist vessels such as jack-up barges. In addition to this, a new jack-up vessel for the installation of the wind turbines has been designed, with the capability of carrying more than double the number of large 8MW turbines than existing vessels potentially reducing both costs and emissions.The study presented here is being carried out as part of the LEANWIND project to assess the environmental impacts of these new foundation and installation vessel innovations and provide information about their comparative impacts and any benefits over existing solutions. This work is part of the holistic philosophy of the project, complementing the parallel work assessing the life cycle costs and considering a broad range of environmental impacts in order to highlight any areas where problems might be shifted away from one impact category towards another. It involves two comparative LCA studies - the first focussing on the life cycle of offshore wind foundations, and the second examining the operational impacts of conventional and novel jack-up barges for turbine installation. The analyses are carried out using SimaPro and GaBi software tools, with data mostly sourced from the Ecoinvent database.Preliminary results suggest that the global warming potential of the foundations range from 13 to 23g CO2eq/kWh, with the jacket foundation performing better than the gravity-based foundation, but that the eutrophication impacts of the gravity-based foundation are significantly lower than those for the jacket foundation. This highlights the challenge of finding an optimal solution based solely on information about environmental impacts. This paper also discusses the challenges associated with the application of LCA in this context, in particular those relating to working with multiple LCA practitioners with different software tools, and the lack of available data for sea vessels such as jack-up barges or even simple tugboats.The results of this study will be used to inform further design developments for offshore wind foundations and installation vessels, and provide data to support offshore wind farm planning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2017
EventLife Cycle Management 2017 - European Convention Center, Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Duration: 4 Sept 20176 Sept 2017


ConferenceLife Cycle Management 2017
Abbreviated titleLCM2017
Internet address


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