Firm’s novel solution to wind turbine ‘scouring’

A company is investing �300,000 to develop an innovative system to protect offshore windfarms and oil rigs from the effects of being battered by the sea.

Lowestoft-based Scour Prevention Systems wants to use an undersea carpet of used tyres to prevent scouring damage around the base of turbines and other offshore facilities.

While probably not directly affecting their structures, scouring can lead to vibrations which can cause turbines to be closed down.

The company's global patent will see up to 900 tyres form a mat around a turbine which will slow water flow and capture sediment to fill the tyres to create an even surface.

Bosses say the tyre carpets will last the operating lifetime of a wind turbine and will not damage the environment. The used tyres will come from East Anglian sites.

It has drawn up models of its tyre scheme to show to people around the world, including offshore firms in the US, Canada, Japan, China and Australia.

In the spring the company will also be doing its first test of its SPS100 system at the Scroby Sands wind farm off Great Yarmouth.

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Scour Prevention Systems is based at the Orbis Energy Centre in Wilde Street.

The company was formed by Bob and Richard Durrant of diving Company USL and Mark Aspinall and Dave Watson of 4NRG, a specialist research and development firm.

Now comprising just four directors, the company hopes to build on the extensive offshore experience of its staff.

The original idea for the tyre system was thought up by managing director Bob Durrant, who with 30 years of diving experience witnessed at first hand how other anti-scouring systems were not protecting the base of turbines such as concrete mats.

Mr Aspinall, sales and marketing director, said Mr Durrant had a 'Eureka' moment when he thought up the idea of a carpet of tyres.

He said: 'Scour can be a big problem for structures in the sea, especially where the tide runs fast.

'When it comes to offshore wind turbines it is not uncommon for holes several metres deep and hundreds of metres long to develop in a single year around structures.

'Our solution utilises a common waste product, tyres, to create an inert, environmentally friendly skin that can be laid down around offshore wind turbines, over cables and other structures to completely eliminate the problem of scour.

'The mats are easy to produce and deploy and will last for the whole of the anticipated 40 year life of a wind turbine.'

Describing the potential of the SPS100 system around the world Mr Aspinall said: 'It is colossal.'