The National Composites Centre (NCC) in the UK has begun the second part of a £5m project to research incorporating new composite-based components in the next-generation of offshore wind turbines.

The 20-month program, called the Joule Challenge, is funded by the UK government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Phase 1, completed in 2020, proved the importance of composite materials in enabling the next generation of offshore wind turbines. The NCC predicted reductions in component masses of up to 60% and a reduction of embedded carbon of up to 55%.

In the second part, the NNC will try to show that composite materials can deliver significant performance and light-weighting opportunities and help develop next generation wind turbine platforms. This will involve engaging with the UK composite and offshore wind sectors to gather market intelligence and work out how next generation components could be manufactured and delivered. The project has already produced a Technology Development Plan for a 20MW demonstration turbine, incorporating a programme framework identification of critical technology gaps, potential partners and stakeholders, and a detailed technology development path.

“We predict that a 20MW prototype, incorporating increased levels of UK content and using lightweight composite materials, such as those that have been developed for advanced aerospace structures could be built by 2025,’ said Tom Wildsmith, business development manager with ORE Catapult, which is involved in the project.