Offshore foundations ageing studied at Belgian wind park
Thornton Bank offshore wind farm using Senvion turbines. Author: Jumanji Solar. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic
The ageing process in offshore turbine foundations is being studied at the 325-MW Thornton Bank wind farm in the Belgian North Sea.
C-Power, the consortium of Belgian and international shareholders that operates the 54-turbine park, has selected Sirris/OWI-Lab and The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) for the project. Together, the team will monitor the structures, which are exposed to vibrations from the turbine, waves and marine currents, climatic conditions, and corrosion, to name a few.
“Research is needed into the ageing process in offshore turbine foundations, not only for maintenance purposes but also to ensure smarter designs for wind farms in future,” says a press release on Monday.
When designing the foundations for the offshore wind farm, C-Power relied on simulation models to assume a life of 30 years. Still, field data is needed on the external influences in order to test and validate the simulations.
Experts from OWI-Lab, in partnership with VUB, have fitted sensors and measuring systems on two turbine foundations at the site as part of the R&D project so as to record the external influences, which include weather conditions, sea and seabed conditions, and various types of vibrations caused by the turbines. They also examined critical welds and joints in the foundation design.
To analyse all the data OWI-Lab has developed a new data warehouse which gathers together all different data sources.
The results from these measurements are expected to help plan maintenance work on existing structures more efficiently, and also support the design of new offshore wind turbines.
The Thornton Bank wind park has been producing since September 2013.