Offshore Construction Concept Makes Waves With Award
A design concept that could transform construction of offshore wind turbines has received a major international award.
Experts from the University of Dundee’s School of Science and Engineering Geotechnical Engineering Group worked with Heerema Marine Contractors to develop an alternative means of installing foundations for turbines at sea to reduce the impact on marine life.
The so-called 'silent foundations' won the Environmental Sustainability Award from the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) at a gala event in Amsterdam.
Normal offshore piled foundations are driven into the seabed using large hammers. These create significant levels of underwater noise and vibration, which has raised concerns over the impact on marine mammals and sea life migration routes.
These factors can be mitigated by using bubble curtains to reduce the level of noise passing through the water, though the effect of this is unpredictable and requires a vessel on site to pump compressed air into the area, bringing its own environmental cost.
Heerema has been working with the University of Dundee on two concepts: helical or screw piles, and so-called push-in piles, which can be installed without loud hammering and the subsequent need for mitigation measures.
Professor Michael Brown said, “This is a great honour and fantastic recognition for the work of our Geotechnical Engineering Group."
“The transition to green energy is one of the most pressing issues of our time, but there are ethical issues around this process and the impact on marine life is one of extreme importance."
“Our Geotechnical Engineering Group has extensive experience in developing new foundation concepts for offshore renewable energy and to work with Heerema in developing this design concept is a great example of how we can assist in the change to a more sustainable future for all life.”