The researchers, led by Willett Kempton, a professor in the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, calculated that their process will cost up to $1.6bn less per project than conventional approaches and take half the construction time.
The key insight that allowed Kempton’s team to make considerable optimizations in cost and deployment speed was that the entire structure, from seafloor mounting to the top of the turbine, can be assembled in one piece in port, moved as a unit, and in one step placed into the sea floor.
The reference design used 10-megawatt turbines with support structures, together standing twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty and weighing 2,500 tons. Figuring out how to build and move them around in port was the final hurdle surmounted in the five-year study’s new construction method.
“Instead of today’s method, carrying out parts separately and individually assembling each in the ocean, we have an assembly line on shore,” Kempton said. “We spend more money in port, but we spend far less money at sea.”
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