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Developing a revolutionary platform for floating offshore wind construction

A platform designed to aid in the building and launching of floating wind turbines is being researched and tested with support from Marine-i.

The innovative design has been created by Tugdock Ltd, which is based in Falmouth, Cornwall. The company has patented and produced a novel floating solution to lift structures for various uses. 

Lucas Lowe-Houghton, Director of Business Development for Tugdock, explains:

“The Floating Offshore Wind sector is growing fast worldwide, with enormous opportunities now emerging in the Celtic Sea and beyond. However, very few ports have sufficient water depth and assembly space to enable the commercialisation of these huge turbine floaters. 

“Tugdock solves this problem. Our submersible platforms can operate in as little as 5 metres draft, enabling a more efficient construction. The platform is then towed to deeper water for launching of the turbines. Our platform is modular, easy to erect, and reusable. 

“The Tugdock solution potentially means that a much larger number of UK ports could be involved in the fabrication of these structures, creating many new jobs.” 

More than 8% of the total cost of a Floating Offshore Wind farm is accounted for by assembly and installation. Therefore, any innovation that allows this process to be carried out more efficiently and quickly would have a big impact on profitability for developers. 

The next step for Tugdock is to carry out rigorous testing of a scale model of the platform. Marine-i is supporting this through grant funding and by providing access to leading-edge marine RD&I expertise and world-class testing facilities. 

Prof Lars Johanning, Programme Director for Marine-i, says: 

“The development of floating offshore wind energy in the Celtic Sea is a huge opportunity for Cornwall and the South West. Enabling this technology to reach its full potential will require new thinking and innovative solutions from potential suppliers, just like those being proposed by Tugdock. 

“Marine-i is helping the Tugdock team to demonstrate the operational capability of the new platform, using the world class testing facilities at COAST Lab. We will also be researching the types of sites that the platform would be used in and how stable it will be in various sea conditions.”

Lucas Lowe-Houghton adds: 

“We are very grateful for this support from Marine-i. Having access to this level of research expertise will really help to accelerate the development of our unique technology, opening up a fast growing global market for us.”

[Image: FLOW substructure and turbine on top of the TUGDOCK submersible dry dock - Photo credit: TUGDOCK Ltd.]