An innovative new foundation which could help cut the costs of electricity from offshore wind farms has been successfully deployed by DONG Energy as part of its collaboration with the UK's Carbon Trust Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA).
The full-scale trial of the Suction Bucket Jacket foundation is being conducted at the Borkum Riffgrund 1 offshore wind farm, 37km off the North West coat of Germany, is the culmination of work to overcome one of the key challenges that will be faced by offshore wind farms of the future.
As projects are built further from shore, in deeper water, they will need to be installed without exceeding strict regulatory requirements on underwater noise. The innovative suction bucket design, developed by DONG Energy, has been tailor-made specifically to tackle these challenges.
It consists of three legs welded together in a jacket structure, standing on three giant suction buckets which anchor the foundation to the seabed. The lightweight structure can be installed offshore in a single operation, reducing the time of the installation and so helping to reduce the costs of electricity from offshore wind. DONG Energy's target is to drive down cost of electricity by 35-40 per cent for offshore wind farm projects sanctioned in 2020.
Borkum Riffgrund 1 has been selected for testing the foundation due to its sandy seabed, which makes the installation a challenge and provides a more solid case for the evaluation of the concept.
A 3.6MW turbine from Siemens Wind Power will be installed on top of the foundation in October this year.
Tove Feld, Vice President of DONG Energy, said: "It's a great day for us. We've now installed the very first Suction Bucket Jacket in the offshore wind industry. The reduction in cost of electricity and our ability to utilise some of the more challenging sites further from the coasts and in deeper water show some of the potential that this concept has.
"I'm very excited to see that the cooperation between the partners in this project, not least with Carbon Trust in the UK, is paying off with specific results."
Tom Delay, Chief Executive, the Carbon Trust commented: "We believe innovative foundation designs, such as the Suction Jacket technology play an important role in our efforts to cut the cost of energy from offshore wind. This foundation has been designed for serial fabrication and will save costs across design, fabrication, installation through to operation. Full scale demonstrations are the last critical step before a new innovative design can be considered for commercial projects. We are very enthusiastic about this design and the impact it will have on the industry and we have been very pleased to collaborate with DONG Energy and the other OWA partners to realise this demonstration."
The Suction Bucket Jacket is equipped with a comprehensive monitoring system providing data. The OWA project partners, E.ON, Mainstream Renewable Power, Iberdrola/ScottishPower Renewables, Statkraft and Statoil, will get full insight into this data and also have full access to the fabrication and installation of the new foundation design. This will allow them to evaluate whether it should be used in the UK.