About SFI BLUES
SFI BLUES is a long-term, stable research collaboration, teaming up with an interdisciplinary team of researchers, engineering companies and technology providers.
The world is facing several industrial and societal challenges. Due to the ongoing transition in the world’s energy mix to meet the goals stated in the Paris agreement, the need for clean energy is global. Changes in diets and an increase in the world’s population generate an increased need for safe and healthy food. Further, in a changing climate, requests for increased mobility, as well as a shortage of land area, introduce a need for resilient infrastructure in coastal waters that can be used for transportation as well as industrial and residential developments.
The ocean can contribute with solutions. SFI BLUES will develop floating support structures for many applications, which can be designed to many areas of use. Floating structures are flexible and can be adapted to different water depths. They can also be designed to minimise environmental impact and be geared towards decommissioning, recycling, and reuse. Some examples of new types of floating structures which are relevant in Norway now and in the coming years are floating wind turbines, floating solar power plants, fish cages for exposed or offshore use, and very long floating bridges.
Floating support structures will be important for realisation of the ocean’s potential to solve global challenges.
Our ambition is to enable Norwegian industry to create new types of floating stationary structures, which will satisfy the needs and requirements from renewable energy, aquaculture, and coastal infrastructure.
The Norwegian offshore wind industry is under rapid development. The floating concrete foundations for Hywind Tampen are being constructed at this moment, and many different companies are getting ready for the developments at Utsira Nord and Sørlige Nordsjøen II. Floating foundations will be necessary at least for Utsira Nord, but probably also possible future developments in Norwegian offshore areas, as the water depth is generally too deep for bottom-fixed foundations to be economically viable.
Floating solar power plants
Floating solar power plants is an exciting innovative area, which has had exponential growth over the last few years. Coming from sheltered inland water bodies, such as water reservoirs, development is now also going towards sea-based solutions in relatively exposed areas with high waves and strong winds. Several Norwegian companies are working very actively with development of floater technology for such use. There are demonstration facilities in operation in Norway already and more are on the way.
The innovation rate in the Norwegian aquaculture industry has been very high in the last five years. This can to a large extent be attributed to the announcement of development licenses, where innovation was one of the criteria for receiving an award. New cage structures to improve aquaculture operations and to reduce problems related to parasites, mortality and escape have been developed and are still under development. New cages for offshore and exposed areas are one trend, while closed cages for more sheltered areas is another.
Floating bridges and submerged floating tube bridges
Floating bridges and submerged floating tube bridges are under development to allow for ferry-free crossings of some of the large fjords on the west coast of Norway. These crossings will need significantly longer bridges than those that currently exist. Also, they will be exposed to more severe waves.
All the applications mentioned above have specific needs and requirements to safety, sustainability, cost, function and operation. This leads to structures with which we have limited experience. These structures will be diverse, but they have essential needs in common:
- To understand their requirements to function, safety, cost, operation and sustainability, in order to develop optimised solutions.
- To develop numerical and experimental high-quality, validated design tools.
- To base the design on reliable descriptions of the marine environment.
- To understand the interaction between the environment (wind, waves, current) and structures.
- To develop structures with sustainable, safe and cost-efficient materials.
- To develop solutions to ensure that mooring systems and anchors keep the floating structures in position.
These common research needs form the basis for the research in SFI BLUES.