Danish wind energy giant DONG Energy, in tandem with ESG, have completed the most thorough testing of offshore wind turbine piles ever.
DONG Energy and ESG — the UK’s leading provider of testing, inspection, and compliance services — completed testing on 28 piles (foundational supports for offshore wind turbines, amongst other offshore projects) on two different onshore sites to test new design methods for offshore wind farm foundations.
The new designs are the result of the joint industry project PISA (pile soil analysis), and this new testing — the largest ever conducted — was supervised by those behind the new designs, the PISA academic working group, led by Oxford University and including Imperial College London and University College Dublin.
“The PISA project has provided some of the most challenging testing we’ve ever undertaken,” said Steve Turner, Project Director from ESG, who undertook the testing. “With the largest test, we were simultaneously monitoring more than 250 different precision instruments, whilst applying a load greater than the weight of 37 London double decker buses.”
A total of 28 different tests were conducted at Cowden, in England, and in Dunkirk, in France, focusing primarily on investigating the static monotonic, but also focusing on the response under cyclic lateral loading.
“We’re very pleased with the test results, which confirm that traditional design methods in these soils are very conservative,” explained Alastair Muir Wood, Lead Geotechnical Engineer at DONG Energy and Technical Manager for the PISA Project. “The results indicate that in these site conditions there may be opportunities for savings identified by reducing the quantity of steel in the foundation. In other words, there’s a savings potential, that will contribute to reducing the cost of electricity.”
The PISA academic working group will now take six months to analyze the data collected, and begin integrating what they have learned into their designs, with a final report due by January 2016.
“The PISA Project is a great example of inter-industry collaboration to solve a common problem,” Jesper Skov Gretlund, R&D Project Manager, said. “If the thickness or length of the steel piles can be reduced by even a small fraction, the saving in cost is quite considerable since smaller construction vessels can be used and larger turbines constructed. The next challenge is to analyse all of the data collected in order to refine our methods and apply these findings to our foundation designs.”
Image Credit: via 4C Offshore and DONG Energy
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