Suction bucket trials to reduce costs
There have been a few experimental trials with suction bucket foundation systems for the offshore wind industry but now trials are scheduled to start for the first commercial version off the coast of Denmark writes Dag Pike.
Universal Foundation has begun industrialized suction bucket installation tests under a project that is part of the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program (EUDP). This test programme is being carried out in conjunction with consortium partners Siemens Gamesa, Aalborg University, Fred. Olsen Windcarrier and Offshore Energy.
Last year the Danish Energy Ministry allocated €3.8 million to the consortium which aimed to demonstrate how an industrialized suction bucket concept can cut foundation installation costs. The project seeks to lower the cost of foundation construction and installation by 40% to support continued decreases in the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCo E) and to mature the industrialized concept of the suction bucket foundation system towards full commercial scale.
With the suction bucket system, the foundation of the wind turbine is shaped like an inverted bucket with an open bottom. When lowered to the seabed, the rim of the bucket engages with the material of the seabed and then the water trapped inside the bucket is slowly evacuated allowing the sea bed material to be sucked up inside the bucket which then sinks into the seabed to provide a firm foundation.
The partners have fabricated an 8-metre diameter prototype of the suction bucket foundation and this will be used for the offshore trial installation campaign. The new concept combines the benefits of noise-free installation of the suction buckets with industrialised fabrication methods using coil steel, instead of classical plate steel. This fabrication method was originally developed between Siemens Gamesa and Danish steel specialist Ib. Andresen Industries for application in onshore towers. The lack of noise during the installation will be a considerable benefit compared with the pile-driving systems used for conventional installation that is claimed to affect marine life.
Project Manager at Siemens Gamesa, Finn Daugaard Madsen, said, "By applying this innovative fabrication method to suction bucket technology in offshore wind, the steel plate thickness can be reduced to below 20mm, compared to today’s typical thickness of 30-40mm for this type of foundation. This means use of lower steel costs with higher supply availability."
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