The Carbon Trust announced on Tuesday that it was launching BLUE PILOT, a large-scale demonstration project which seeks to reduce the costs and underwater noises of offshore wind construction as part of the larger Offshore Wind Accelerator.
The BLUE PILOT project will specifically aim to deploy the BLUE Hammer, a new type of pile driver developed by Dutch technology company Fistuca BV which was originally developed in 2011. The concept has been tested on a smaller scale and consists of a large water tank that contains an open combustion chamber.
Energy for driving the monopile — which serves as the seafloor support for an offshore wind turbine — is created with gas combustion that accelerates a large column of water. Then, as the column of water falls back to the bottom of the water tank the decelerating energy is transferred into the pile. The process takes a longer time than conventional hydraulic hammer drilling and provides a quieter and gentler, but more energetic blow to make way for the monopile. Specifically, the BLUE Hammer is expected to reduce underwater noises by up to 20 dB (SEL), as well as potentially reduce the fatigue damage during installation on the monopile itself by up to 90%.
The BLUE PILOT project is expected to enable potential lifetime savings of between €33 – €40 million for a 720 megawatt offshore wind farm, equal to reducing the levelized cost of energy (LCoE) by €0.9 to €1.2 per megawatt-hour . This full-sized demonstration project hopes to verify the predicted benefits of the BLUE Hammer and tests will take place during this year’s summer and high-level findings will be made public later in the year. Testing will occur offshore in Dutch waters, with the monopile being provided by Sif and Van Oord will support the installation logistics.
Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) partners E.ON, EnBW, Ørsted, Statoil, and Vattenfall, alongside additional industry partners Fistuca, Van Oord, Shell, and Sif, are contributing €3.2 million funding to the project. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency is also contributing over €2.5 million in public subsidies.
“We want to help the offshore wind industry to further develop environmentally friendly installation methods and also lower the foundation costs,” explained Jasper Winkes, Founder and Managing Director of Fistuca BV. “Therefore we are pleased that, together with the leading utilities in the world, the BLUE PILOT project aims to deliver the proof that innovations can drive down the LCOE even further. Only collaboration throughout the industry will make this possible.”
“The BLUE PILOT has real potential to impact the levelised cost of energy of offshore wind projects,” added Michael Stephenson, Project Manager of the Foundations Working Area in the Carbon Trust Offshore Wind Accelerator. “We are excited to support this project to validate the hammer offshore and to support the integration of industry into the project, which will be vital to its success. It is great to see the whole supply chain involved in the project and collaborating towards the common goal of continuing the cost reduction in offshore wind.”
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