Photos: London Array

Cutting costs with a new design database for offshore wind farms

23.01.2018 / Martin Kelm

Innovative software is needed to answer rising commercial demands in the offshore wind market. Working on one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms, London Array, we were challenged by enormous data sets. We had to come up with a solution.

The offshore wind industry is changing: no longer highly subsidised, it now needs to produce energy on a commercially sustainable and competitive level. This means its Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) must be reduced, even as projects become ever more complex - and the industry's supply chain needs to contribute by providing innovative new solutions.


The need for an innovative contribution was also the case, when COWI led the detailed design of the offshore wind farm London Array from 2009-2012. 

We were carving our way through vast data sets and the need for a more efficient way to handle the data was needed to meet our customer's commercial demands. 

Through hard work and some serious testing, we created COPILOD - a highly complex software platform which stores all design basis information, calculations and outcomes, enabling the direct generation of design drawings and reports. 

It is supplemented by two support systems, COSPIN and COWAL. COSPIN scripts the geotechnical design checks while interacting with COPILOD. COWAL generates the wave loads on the windmill. 


At the London Array project, we realised that the COPILOD tool made it possible to generate high quality design drawings and reports quickly. This dramatically reduced the time needed to execute turbine foundation designs, as amendments that previously would have taken days could be made in minutes. With the tool, we are able to produce foundation designs five times faster than before, reducing production resources and costs by up to 80%. The engineer remains the pilot of the project, while COPILOD does all the manual and repetitive work.

We are able to produce foundation designs five times faster than before, reducing production resources and costs by up to 80%. 
Martin Kelm Project Director, COWI

Furthermore, the automated process provides high quality drawings and optimises the design, so less steel is required to produce the foundations.

Continuous improvement

My team and I have developed COPILOD to handle the huge amounts of data required to design the wind farms of the future efficiently, and we will continue to look for improvements.

In recent years, we have used COPILOD on major offshore projects such as Merkur Offshore Wind Farm and the Albatros Offshore Wind Farm in Germany, and we continue to develop and improve our suite of digital tools for the offshore wind market.

The consistent and centralised storage of all relevant project data is the basis for further development of the platform. 


My field of expertise is steel design for offshore wind foundations.

I’ve always been interested in offshore wind. It’s a very challenging and new discipline within engineering. I want to make a change and support the renewable energy sector. Another thing that drives me is the international aspect of this business, meeting interesting people and working in multinational teams, getting new influences from different cultures.

So far, the London Array project has definitely been the highlight of my career. We had an international workforce – it was a collaboration between colleagues from Germany, the UK and Denmark. 

Get in contact

Martin Kelmn

Martin Kelm
Project Director
Marine and Foundation Engineering, Germany

Tel: +49 1705006159