Offshore wind represents a key renewable energy source for meeting the UK’s carbon neutrality target and for helping to tackle climate change. The pace of development for new wind farms is accelerating, with deeper water sites being increasingly sought to unlock the full market potential of European waters.
For these deeper water installations, foundation structures are moving away from traditional monopiles towards jacket-type lattices, with designs adapted from the oil and gas industry. These structures contain many more welded joints than monopiles, with over 1km of total weld length per jacket. The quality of the welds is critical to ensuring the long-term integrity of the structure, particularly given its harsh, underwater service environment with complex fatigue loading conditions.
A leading energy supplier and TWI member company approached TWI to assess the weld quality of their offshore wind turbine jacket structures. At this point, the jackets were fully welded and assembled, located onshore and awaiting installation. Any indications identified in the welds would be evaluated for repair and also used to inform an engineering critical assessment (ECA) to evaluate the long-term integrity of the structures.