LEEDCo Launches Engineering and Design Effort for Offshore Turbine Foundations

Project aims to solve facilitate fabrication of monopiles in the U.S.


The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) recently announced that it is leading an international engineering team to design an offshore wind turbine foundation optimized for fabrication in the United States. The design will catalyze domestic manufacturing growth by removing barriers to entry faced by U.S.-based steel fabricators that want to supply foundations for the offshore wind industry.

LEEDCo developed the conceptual design of the foundation system last year through a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) competition. A new DOE award of $2.8 million was finalized today to complete the detailed engineering.

“This will be the first monopile foundation designed from the ground up to be built by American companies and installed in American waters,” said Dr. Lorry Wagner, President of LEEDCo. “Monopiles have proven to be the most cost-effective solution for the vast majority of offshore wind projects in the world. This design will enable American fabricators to compete against their European counterparts that already have decades of experience in this industry.”

LEEDCo has partnered with GLWN, a leading wind industry supply chain adviser, to engage local and regional fabricators. GLWN is an initiative of WIRE-Net, a Cleveland-based manufacturing support organization. With their help, LEEDCo selected American Tank & Fabricating (AT&F), a Cleveland-based steel fabricator, as a partner to represent U.S. fabricators during the design process. AT&F is the leader among several U.S. companies with the sophistication necessary to fabricate monopiles of the scale and complexity needed for use in the offshore wind industry.

“AT&F has over 70 years of experience providing quality steel products, and we are excited about the opportunity to extend our expertise for use in the offshore wind industry,” said AT&F CEO Michael Ripich. “Offshore wind in Lake Erie has huge potential, and we look forward to collaborating with LEEDCo on this project. Bringing manufacturers on board at this early stage is the best way to develop the most cost-effective design.”

LEEDCo will work with several other key project partners. A team at Case Western Reserve University led by Professor David Zeng, Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering, will conduct laboratory testing to validate the design; Offshore Design Engineering, a U.K.-based company that has designed and installed several European offshore wind projects, will lead the detailed engineering of the foundation; the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, located in Hanover New Hampshire and part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineer Research and Development Center, will characterize ice formations in Lake Erie to inform the loads analysis; Sound and Sea Technology, an ocean engineering firm based in Lynnwood, Washington, will perform geophysical and geotechnical analysis.

The foundation design will be used first for LEEDCo’s Project Icebreaker, a six-turbine offshore wind demonstration project planned for the Ohio waters of Lake Erie seven miles north of downtown Cleveland. The design team will collaborate closely with Fred. Olsen Windcarrier, LEEDCo’s key partner for developing an installation strategy for offshore wind the Great Lakes.

Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson and Cleveland Foundation President and CEO Ronn Richard, longtime supporters of the Icebreaker project, voiced their enthusiasm for this latest development.

Mayor Jackson said, “The Department of Energy’s further support of Project Icebreaker will provide the initiative with continued momentum to create a freshwater wind industry built upon our current economic assets. The transition to a clean, renewable energy economy is a key part of my Sustainable Cleveland initiative.”

Mr. Richard, who also chairs LEEDCo’s board, said, “This engineering initiative is hugely exciting because it is one more step on the path to creating a new advanced energy economy in Greater Cleveland. Building offshore wind projects in Lake Erie sets our region on a path to creating jobs and protecting one of our country’s most important freshwater resources.”