Windfarm foundation commercial viability testing
Next-generation wind turbine foundations are being viability tested by HR Wallingford at its Oxfordshire Fast Flow Facility prior to being deployed at the Borkum Riffgrund 2 offshore windfarm.
The research project, which is being carried out jointly with Ørsted, seeks to refine the design of the suction bucket foundation, as part of a research project investigating scour effects and the most suitable scour protection for the novel foundation structures.
“Ultimately this will help to make offshore wind developments more cost-effective, and developments in exposed locations and deeper waters more economically viable,” said Professor Richard Whitehouse, chief technical director, Sediment Dynamics at HR Wallingford.
It is well known that the action of waves and currents, or scour, can lead to erosion of the seabed around wind turbine foundations causing structural failure.
Although scour is relatively well understood for traditional monopile foundations, this is not necessarily the case for complex foundation types.
The ten-month study has included physical modelling and complex analysis, looking into the types and extents of scour protection that would be required for the suction bucket foundation to be deployed in the North Sea.
Harland and Wolff are manufacturing the suction buckets for the foundations, while GeoSea vessel Innovation is handling their installation.
When fully commissioned during 2019, the Borkum Riffgrund 2 offshore windfarm, which is already under construction in the German North Sea, will have 56 8MW turbines, including 20 next-generation suction bucket foundations.
By Anne-Marie Causer
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