Search
Close this search box.

UK Offshore Wind Farms: Overcoming Challenges at Sea

UK offshore wind farms must contend with the elements in their design, repair, and maintenance. We explore how structural bonding helps overcome the challenges at sea.

Table of Contents

UK offshore wind farm
UK offshore wind turbines.

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.

Corrosion resistance

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.

Weight reduction

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.

Simplified maintenance

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.

Load distribution

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.

Offshore wind is a major UK sector
The UK currently has 13.9 GW of offshore wind fully commissioned

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 

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.

Environmental benefits

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.

Innovations are constantly seeking to improve UK offshore wind farms.

Huntsman ARALDITE® 2051

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. 

Application

  • 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.

We are your technical partner.

If you have any questions or want to find out more about the possibilities for your industrial application, please complete the contact form and one of our experts will be in touch.

If you have a problem with industrial adhesives, sealants, or electronic protection products and require advice, you can contact our technical support service. Our team can help you to optimize your processes and applications.

Liked this article?

If you found this article interesting please share it using the buttons below.

LinkedIn
Twitter
Email
WhatsApp
Print
everything you should know about the wind industry
Subscribe to the Knowledge Hub

Sign up to receive more articles like this directly in your mail.

Get in touch with Antala

The personal data voluntarily provided by you, through this web form will be treated by ANTALA LTD. as responsible for the treatment, in order to meet your request, query, complaint or suggestion, without communications or data transfers occurring and kept for the time necessary to meet your request. You can exercise the rights of access, rectification or deletion of your data, by writing to arco@antala.uk, for more information, you can consult our Privacy Policy

technical products for wind industry

wind industry

Download our PDF to learn all about the best technical products from best-in-class brands. Explore the latest performance-enhancing technologies and components for improving turbine blade maintenance and repair.

Making Repairs in Demanding Conditions

This white paper examines how you can maximize staff time and minimize the number of hours when your critical items are out of action.