Speaking to Lusa news agency, Tiago Ferradosa, researcher from CIIMAR, explained on 12 April that the project, entitled POSEIDON and funded with 250 thousand Euros by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), aims to study the "optimisation of these systems" from the point of view of foundation protection and maintenance.
The offshore foundations are structures, fixed or floating, installed offshore and used for various purposes, including for the use of renewable energy, which is the focus of this project.
"Whenever these fixed platforms are placed offshore, they are subject to erosion near the contact zone between the sea floor and the structure," said the researcher, adding that they are affected by the vibrations associated with the movement of wind turbines or other energy converters, such as those of wave energy.
"The structure always vibrates a little bit, since it is part of the way it is built, but if it starts to become unstable, it will tend to vibrate too much. When the vibration goes beyond a certain value, it forces the structure to become inoperable to avoid greater damage, such as collapse, and this is reflected in an absence of service and loss of money," he clarified.
In this sense, the researchers will create protection mechanisms, based on physical and numerical modelling, that are more economical than those that currently exist, which "will allow an optimisation of costs in the order of 30 percent".
"For a wind turbine founded with a monopile (a single pillar) we may be talking about global savings (in terms of protection, transport and installation) in the order of 20 percent, already in terms of protection we may be talking about savings of 30 percent," he said.
In Portugal, the project will focus on the area of São Pedro de Moel, in the district of Leiria, and near the Port of Leixões, in the municipality of Matosinhos.
"Our project does not implement, what we do is the study in laboratory of these foundations, and the next step is to try to find funding to allow us to go to places 'in situ'," said the researcher.
The aim of the project is also to understand if Portugal "may have conditions to create wind farms".
"The idea is to try to apply in Portugal and understand if we may have conditions to create offshore wind farms," he said, adding that the project also aims to "prepare the Portuguese critical mass".
"There is a pace of creating structures like this in Portugal that is a slow pace and to which we add value and then, there is a more advanced pace that is having teams in Portugal that can provide this type of direction and the stability study of structures out there," he said.
The POSEIDON project, which runs until 2024, is developed by the Marine Energy Group of CIIMAR, led by Tiago Ferradosa, Francisco Taveira Pinto and Paulo Rosa Santos.