UK offshore wind farms
UK offshore wind farms (OWFs) are essential to the nation’s renewable energy sector. The UK has the second largest global offshore wind (OSW) market, and the UK government has set the ambition to achieve up to 50 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2030, over three times the current output levels. As technological advancements seek to improve the wind sector, so do strategic priorities. The UK government recently outlined its key priorities for investment and manufacturing, including floating substructures, port infrastructure, and specialist offshore logistics and installation vessels.
The UK’s shallow shoreline creates easy access for the installation and maintenance of offshore wind farms, enabling high levels of electricity production. Alongside these relatively accessible shallows, Britain’s coastlines boast some of the best wind conditions in the world. With this said: the UK’s offshore wind industry must contend with the extremes of offshore conditions, including saltwater corrosion, sudden changes in temperature, and unpredictable weather patterns. Innovative structural bonding solutions are helping to overcome challenges at sea, further bolstering the UK’s credentials as one of the most well-suited environments for offshore energy production.
Overcoming challenges through structural bonding
Structural bonding helps to overcome the unique challenges posed by the offshore environment. Innovations in structural bonding continue to contribute to the success and sustainability of the UK’s offshore wind farms, with specialist chemicals designed to combat the demands of extreme conditions.
Offshore wind turbines spend their lifecycle contending with corrosive marine environments, making turbine structures susceptible to accelerated degradation. Innovative structural bonding solutions contain saltwater-resistant materials, helping to protect critical components and ensure longevity. Some structural adhesives can even be applied underwater, helping address areas of marine corrosion.
The modern turbine design is a carefully considered balancing act between weight and size. Large turbines are more efficient, whilst weight must remain low to guarantee ease of transportation and installation. From the world’s first wind farm in 1991; Ørsted’s Videby site in Denmark, to today’s largest UK wind farm; Ørsted’s Hornsby 2, we see a drastic increase in blade size of over 60-metres. Structural bonding has been core to weight-reducing design innovations in wind turbines, reducing the overall weight whilst increasing the strength and integrity of lightweight materials.
Improved fatigue resistance
Offshore turbines are subject to cyclic loading, repeated stresses from wind and waves to structural components. Traditionally, cyclic loading leads to fatigue and damage. Structural bonding enhances resistance properties, enabling parts to withstand the stresses of volatile environments, reducing the overall risk of fatigue-related failures, and increasing reliability.
Accessing offshore wind turbines for maintenance is a costly, challenging, and, in times of bad weather, potentially hazardous operation. Structural bonding ensures simplified maintenance operations compared with mechanical fasteners, reducing downtime and operational costs. Turbine maintenance is simplified further thanks to sensor technology, predictive maintenance, and the Internet of Things (IoT), working alongside bonding solutions to predict the need for maintenance and repair.
Unlike mechanical fasteners, structural bonding distributes weight evenly across a structure’s surface. This enhanced load distribution improves the overall structural integrity of a wind turbine. Load distribution is critical when mitigating the risks of extreme weather and high-speed winds that OWFs must contend with. Whilst turbine blades flex to improve efficiency and combat high winds, structural bonding ensures that no single blade point must withstand heavy strain.
Adaptability and flexibility
Structural bonding is integral to technological advancements in turbine design and has enabled the construction of various new configurations. As new technologies and materials advance and become available, the versatility of structural bonding allows for ease of construction and integration.
Air-tight sealing and gap-filling are essential in preventing water and other contaminants from damaging critical components and electrical systems. Structural bonding ensures a continuous seal, protecting internal components from moisture and corrosion. In the construction of offshore wind farms, it’s common for a submerged foundation or monopile to separate the tower from the highly corrosive sea below. The structures bond together for an air-tight connection.
Innovations in best-in-class structural bonding adhesives have prioritised environmentalism, reducing the reliance upon volatile organic compound (VOC) chemicals. Reducing or eliminating VOCs improves environmental impact/damage both at the time of construction and during maintenance activities.
Scalability and cost-effectiveness
Structural bonding techniques can be easily scaled for large offshore wind farms, making them cost-effective to mass produce. As the UK offshore wind farm industry continues to grow, scalability becomes increasingly important for ensuring the economic viability of new projects.
Huntsman has developed a best-in-class, fast-curing, two-part acrylic adhesive for ultrafast assembly in extreme conditions, helping overcome challenges at sea. The perfect tool for addressing small to large-scale offshore turbine maintenance, ARALDITE® 2051 requires practically zero surface preparation and cures at temperatures of 0° to 40°C, underwater, or in high humidity. This ultra-versatile structural adhesive is perfect for maritime repairs and is certified for specialised bonding on wind turbine blades. A non-sagging adhesive that is easily applied vertically and overhead, ARALDITE® 2051 ensures durable bonds that vastly reduce downtime.
- Easily applied in tough conditions; humidity, saltwater, moisture, etc.
- 15-minute fixture time at room temperature.
- 5-minute pot life at room temperature.
- 1 700 MPa tensile modulus.
- >20 MPa lap shear strength on aluminium.
- ca. 10% elongation break.
Features and certification
- Certified bonding on wind turbine blades
- EN 455545-2 certification.
- Fast curing from 0°C to 40°C
- Application and curing underwater
- Application and curing in humid conditions
- Excellent ageing and weather resistance
- Suitable for service temperatures up to 120°C
Huntsman ARALDITE® 2000 range
This product is part of the Huntsman Araldite® 2000 range of Epoxy, Polyurethane and Methacrylate (MMA) designed to bond a wide range of materials including metals, composites, and thermoplastics.