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European Offshore Wind Capacity Reaching Critical Mass

Photo Essay Shows How Challenges of Booming Heavy Industry Are Being Solved

By Guest Writer

Mar 21, 2010

By Jerome a Paris

Recent statistics have been published showing that Europe has now installed of offshore wind capacity, with more than a quarter installed in the past year and lots more to come in the next few years.

I discussed these numbers in more detail , but wanted to give you here some insights on what these numbers mean on the ground.

I recently visited the port site in Zeebrugge, Belgium, where the foundations for the Belwind offshore wind farm (the financing of which ) were stored before their installation. This is a good opportunity to give you a glimpse of the kind of logistics involved, and what kind of problems can happen (and how they are solved), on offshore wind installations.

Follow me for a tour of a small bit of Europe's fastest growing heavy industry.

As a quick reminder, there are 3 main types of foundations for offshore turbines: monopiles, gravity-based, and jackets/tripods.

Here are gravity-based foundations and tripods (you can see more pictures )

Monopiles have typically been used for smaller turbines and lowers depths, as their size (diameter and thickness) needs to increase with the load to be carried and their cost can become an issue. The price of steel will heavily influence the choice between the technologies when several are possible. In this case, with 3 MW turbines in 20 meter depth, monopiles were the most logical choice.

Foundations include two main parts, the foundation itself (the part that's driven into the subsoil) and the transition piece (the part that's affixed on top of the foundation and carries the turbine tower).

The transition piece usually includes the boat landing, access platform and j-tubes (the steel tube that protects the electrical cable going to other turbines and/or the transformer station, it is curved near the ground to allow the cable to go from its underground trench to the turbine, thus its name).

It also plays a vital role in that it corrects any flaws in the verticality of the foundation: turbines require the towers to be within one half degree of perfect verticality in order not to have to bear inappropriate loads, and it is not so easy to hammer 50 meter long steel columns in the sea ground to such precision; the transition piece is designed to be adjusted to provide the perfect position required for the turbine over the water.

Another aspect which requires a lot of precision is the roundness of the foundation and the transition piece. The two of them must fit together (more on this in a second), and the transition piece needs to be in the exact size for the first part of the turbine tower to be bolted on top of it — tolerances are below a centimeter (the bolts are big ones, a couple centimeters thick, but they need to fit in over the whole diameter of the two parts) for equipment measured in tens of meters.

The foundations here have a smaller diameter in their top part, in order for the transition piece to be lowered on top of them and around them. The two parts are then grouted together (a special concrete is injected between the two pieces, this is done on site, naturally, and under water).

Some offshore wind farms use a different connection between foundation and transition piece, with the transition piece snuggling inside the foundation. One European wind farm has quality issues on the grouting in that configuration, and there are worries that the turbines could slip lower into the foundations (which is not that important) and lose their horizontality (which is a big problem). With the design here, this is less of an issue as the wider diameter below acts as a stop should the grouting fail.

"Ovality" is also an issue for foundations as the transition pieces need to fit on top of them, and it needs to be checked carefully.

As you can see, the foundation in the photo at right has a serious problem: It's really not round. In that case, it is not a manufacturing problem: That foundation sank during the transport to site and hit the seabed. The project company, together with the insurance companies, is investigating the best way to deal with this problem: replace it completely, try to improve its roundness by squeezing it back into shape (the giant steel "pinch" for that was being prepared on site when we visited) or, quite possibly, use it as it is (by luck, it is the bottom part which was damaged, ie. the part that goes in the sand, so ovality is less of an issue there as long as the vertical penetration in the soil can still be controlled).

The reason the foundation sank is that it was transported to site by floating it — plugs were installed on each end and the foundation could simply be pulled on the water.

But the design of a plug was found (after a number of trips) to be slightly faulty and water seeped in, leading to the incident. The foundation was recovered, and the design flaw was identified and has now been corrected. Transport of the foundations to the site was of course interrupted during the investigation, but by luck the weather was poor at that time so no work could have been done in that period. The pictures at right show the new improved plug system, which includes a more comprehensive set of sensors to warn of any risk of infiltrations.

This is a fairly typical offshore construction incident, in that it was unexpected, hitting a system that had worked fine previously and had not altogether minor consequences.

It was a technical problem, to which a technical solution could be found reasonably easily. It had an impact on the schedule, which could be absorbed by the buffers put in place (and indeed in this case did not require more buffers than were required because of bad weather anyway). In terms of financial impact for the project, it will be fairly minor as this can be largely minimized by repairs or covered by insurance.

It goes to confirm that the goal cannot be to expect a flawless project, but to have teams which are able to deal with problems as they appear, because they — inevitably — will appear at some point, and to have a budget and scheduled which include contingencies and are able to withstand such incidents. Resiliency is the key word here.

The project is expected to finish installing the foundations and transition pieces in the short future, and move on to the installation of the turbines. These are going to be soon delivered to a harbor site nearby (so, no pictures this time), with completion in the course of this year. The turbines will be erected on their towers on the site inland, and transported as a whole to the site — the erection is expected to attract quite a bit of attention in the area as it will be highly visible.

(Republished with permission from the author. This post originally appeared at as part of the )

 

we have bound to reanalyse

we have bound to reanalyse our means & methods of developements that results in severe environmental crisis, such development like the above article not only satisfacting one but equally praised by all should be followed by all the regions where such facilities are available.

when we have bound to

when we have bound to reanalyse our means & methods of developements that results in severe environmental crisis, such development like the above article not only satisfacting one but equally praised by all should be followed by all the regions where such facilities are available.

Thanks a lot for the

Thanks a lot for the informative and interesting publication.

Potential offshore wind

Potential offshore wind resources in the United State is nearly 1000 GW. Offshore wind development is another means in which can promote energy security for our country as well as planting the necessary jobs to put people back to work. Wind, solar, biofuels, nuclear, renewable and conventionals: all are part of a complete energy portfolio that America desperately needs!

This is a good opportunity to

This is a good opportunity to give you a glimpse of the kind of logistics involved, and what kind of problems can happen (and how they are solved), on offshore wind installations.Offshore wind development is another means in which can promote energy security for our country as well as planting the necessary jobs to put people back to work.

re

Thank you for another informative blog. Where else could I get this kind of info written in such an incite full way? I have a project that I am presently working on, and I have been on the look out for such info

Internetine parduotuve

Maybe it is overgrowing all the green places and making it more wasted than it is know but i still think, that my county should participate more in wind energy.
_______________________
Nice eshop in Lithuania

Offshore wind developments

Offshore wind developments really have got wind in their sails. Some time ago I read that so many big companies like Siemens and General Electric are getting in the sector, not to talk about the energy utilities that there are fears that we will get quite an oligopoly. And the interesting thing is that despite the lower prices of oil than the peak of a few years ago the influx of investment money to the offshore wind sector is still enormous.

I have never used this

I have never used this website before so I wasn't really sure what this was going to do. So this is just a test post. I really like this forum, it has some excellent discussions that take place.

Yes and no

While this is certainly good in some aspects, these offshore monsters have their negative sides as well, e.g. whales get huge problems with their communication since they are load as hell. Not everything that's a at first sight is it still at second...

You have valid points but I

You have valid points but I think there's still something missing about this article. I'll have to read this again. Still... thanks. 

Whether it is to save taxes,

Whether it is to save taxes, achieve greater business freedom, protect assets, minimize reporting, or maintain privacy, having an offshore company (a company that conducts business outside the country of incorporation) can be an optimum business solution. Offshore company formation is popular amongst international entrepreneurs, independent contractors, consultants and traders. Jane of

Re:

Whether it is to save taxes, achieve greater business freedom, protect assets, minimize reporting, or maintain privacy, having an offshore company (a company that conducts business outside the country of incorporation) can be an optimum business solution. Offshore company formation is popular amongst international entrepreneurs, independent contractors, consultants and traders. Jane of

At this juncture of time when

At this juncture of time when we have bound to reanalyse our means & methods of developements that results in severe environmental crisis, such development like the above article not only satisfacting one but equally praised by all should be followed by all the regions where such facilities are available.

Its bit expensive but to save

Its bit expensive but to save world all countries should adopt this technology

Yes

Like Nirmal said "Great relief to find that such unconventional and sustainable methods are adopted for meeting our need. It has been practiced in Europe for a quite long time and gradually getting speed in other ares also." I can only second this!

I was reading a few days ago

I was reading a few days ago in German newspaper Spiegel about the possibility that the new energy oligopoly will be formed in wind power. More and more of energy companies are going in the sector of wind power along the coasts. And in the area of producers, large firms are winning market shares. Will be interesting how this will play out.

the cable to go from its

the cable to go from its underground trench to the turbine, thus its name).

1000 GW Wind Turbine

Oneof the costs of going offshore is the foundation work. Setting a foundation in water (even shallow) water involves a lot of expense.
Can the foundation be reused, so that you could have a new turbine on the same site without reworking the foundation.

How about the towers?
It seems like the stuff that would have a limited life span would be in the nacelle. Can you switch out nacelles to cut costs on keeping old fields working

 

According to BWEA, Scotland

According to BWEA, Scotland has 2 GW of installed on shore wind with 0.5 GW in construction and 2.5 GW consented. If all this is built, the total is 5 GW.
Thanks

hi

other nations should also start concentrating on these energy resources where in you can get more and clean energy by investing little. 

hi

business outside the country of incorporation) can be an optimum business solution. Offshore company formation is popular amongst

According to BWEA

According to BWEA, Scotland has 2 GW of installed on shore wind with 0.5 GW in construction and 2.5 GW consented. If all this is built, the total is 5 GW.
Thanks

Sam

 

Clean Energy saves the Environment.

Europe has really initiated a new way of dealing with the renewable energy. This will really reduce the effects of the Global temperature rising around the globe. A lot many other nations should also start concentrating on these energy resources where in you can get more and clean energy by investing little.

The 1000 GW of wind turbines

The 1000 GW of wind turbines capacity projected to be installed by 2020 ... Asia and Africa are reaching critical mass and we may be surprised.


Clean Energy

Wind energy is one of our future energy sources if we want to be sustainable. I'm glad to hear European countries are on top of this.

hi

It seems like the stuff that would have a limited life span would be in the nacelle. Can you switch out nacelles to cut costs on keeping old fields working

Offshore

I like "green energy" offshore are the best alternative. " -Potential offshore wind resources in the United State is nearly 1000 GW. " thats a good information

Thanks

[email protected]

So do I Englisch Deutsch

So do I

So do I.  <a

So do I. 

<a href="http://www.profischnell.com">Englisch Deutsch Übersetzung</a>

Thanks a lot for the

Thanks a lot for the informative and interesting publication. Actually I was looking for this information for a long time, because it’s really useful for my writing and finally have noticed this your entry.

hmm...

What do you do if someone has already registered the name of your business or product as a domain? Worse yet, what if the domain owner is using the site to harm your business? And what can you do to prevent cybersquatting in the first place?

Potential offshore wind resources in the United State is nearly 1000 GW. Offshore wind development is another means in which can promote energy security for our country as well as planting the necessary jobs to put people back to work. Wind, solar, biofuels, nuclear, renewable and conventionals: all are part of a complete energy portfolio that America desperately needs!

One of the costs of going

One of the costs of going offshore is the foundation work. Setting a foundation in water (even shallow) water involves a lot of expense.
Can the foundation be reused, so that you could have a new turbine on the same site without reworking the foundation.
How about the towers?
It seems like the stuff that would have a limited life span would be in the nacelle. Can you switch out nacelles to cut costs on keeping old fields working?
[email protected]

Great relief to find that

Great relief to find that such unconventional and sustainable methods are adopted for meeting our energy need. It has been practiced in Europe for a quite long time and gradually getting speed in other ares also. But sometimes, the wind turbines are called as giant bird killer. So design must be improved to avoid such accident .

Guiding lamp for all

At this juncture of time when we have bound to reanalyse our means & methods of developements that results in severe environmental crisis, such development like the above article not only satisfacting one but equally praised by all should be followed by all the regions where such facilities are available.

-Potential offshore wind

-Potential offshore wind resources in the United State is nearly 1000 GW. Offshore wind development is another means in which can promote energy security for our country as well as planting the necessary jobs to put people back to work. Wind, solar, biofuels, nuclear, renewable and conventionals: all are part of a complete energy portfolio that America desperately needs!

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