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The Carbon Trust has recently issued a call asking for businesses and consortia that are interested in studying all aspects of marine corrosion to work with it on a study looking at marine corrosion in secondary structures in the offshore wind sector.

Riviera Maritime Media reported that the organisation wants to explore the issues, available protection measures and mitigation options available for secondary steel components on offshore structures.

These can include the likes of boat landings, J-tubes, internal and external platforms, earthing connections, bolted connections, access ladders and railings, and plug connections.

The reason the Carbon Trust is focusing on protecting these secondary elements of offshore wind structures is because carrying out repairs to them can be costly, not to mention that poorly maintained areas could compromise safety or a turbine’s efficient operation.

Elson Martin, energy systems associate at the organisation, explained that the aim is to compile as much information as possible about corrosion in this kind of maritime environment, as well as about the options available to prevent it.

The ultimate aim is to create some best practice guidance for the offshore wind sector about how to design corrosion prevention systems that can last the entire lifespan of a wind turbine project. In many cases this is more than 25 years in a harsh marine environment.

Mr Martin commented: “The challenging thing about many secondary steel components on a turbine or other offshore structure is that they are exposed to the splash zone. That makes them especially sensitive to corrosion.”

He added that the study being led by the Carbon Trust is necessary because this industry “needs state-of-the-art solutions to corrosion and better ways to protect those components and mitigate any issues with them should they develop”.

What makes the splash zone such a challenging environment is that it’s the area exposed to both the air and water. It’s the area immediately above and below the median water level, the news provider explained.

It’s known to be one of the most aggressive marine environments, because components are exposed to fully aerated seawater, UV radiation and potentially salt build up. The splash zone also experiences repeated wetting and drying.

Corrosion protection that’s applied to components that are permanently submerged isn’t appropriate in this setting, as it spends some time out of the water.

Mr Martin noted that currently the only way to tackle this issue in the splash zone is to consider using alternative materials, or sacrificial steel thickness, as well as applying coatings.

This is just the latest element of the Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA), a collaborative RD&D programme being run by the Carbon Trust. The other areas that it’s currently exploring include cable installation, electrical systems, offshore foundations, access systems, and wake effects and wind resource.

The ultimate aim of the OWA is to reduce the cost of offshore wind, making it a more competitive form of energy generation. It also provides best practice guidance on health and safety issues in the sector.

It supports the most innovative projects to come out of its research areas to help them develop and be taken up by companies operating in the offshore wind industry.

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