DONG Energy, UK Carbon Trust Introduce Suction Bucket Jacket

DONG Energy and the UK Carbon Trust, through its Offshore Wind Accelerator programme (OWA), have reached an agreement to collaborate.

OWA has awarded DONG Energy GBP 6 million (DKK 54 million) to co-fund full scale demonstration of a new offshore wind turbine foundation called the Suction Bucket Jacket.

DONG Energy targets to drive down cost of electricity by 40 per cent for projects sanctioned in 2020. Technical innovation in key areas such as foundations is critical to meet this target. The Suction Bucket Jacket was designed by DONG Energy and based on ideas from the SPT Offshore foundation a finalist in a global competition run by the Carbon Trust to find lower cost foundation solutions.

If the demonstration is successful, it could be implemented in future commercial projects from 2017 – including the UK Round 3 projects.

The Suction Bucket Jacket combines jacket technology, consisting of welded tubular space frames, with suction buckets for anchoring the foundation firmly to the seabed. The bucket foundation (suction caisson) is a well-known concept from the oil and gas industry, where it has been used for more than 30 years for oil platforms installed in the North Sea.

To minimise the time to market for the Suction Bucket Jacket, a full-scale prototype of the foundation will be demonstrated with a turbine as quickly as possible. This will allow the performance and stability to be verified. DONG Energy will demonstrate a full-scale Suction Bucket Jacket prototype at the offshore wind farm Borkum Riffgrund 1, where the sandy soil conditions are highly suitable for testing of this new concept. The foundation will be installed in 2014.

The prototype foundation will be installed with a state of the art measurement system that will provide essential data for the verification of the Suction Bucket Jacket concept. The collaboration will ensure that OWA participants E.ON, Mainstream Renewable Power, ScottishPower Renewables, Statkraft and Statoil will get full insight into this data, and also have full visibility of the fabrication and installation of the new foundation design. This will allow them to evaluate whether to use it in the UK.

UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey said:

“This project shows that not only is the UK the world’s most attractive destination for investment in offshore wind, we’re at the cutting edge of innovation in the sector.

“Innovations like these bring green jobs to Britain, support wider supply chains and reduce the cost of renewable energy bringing real benefit to consumers.

Carbon Trust Chief Executive Tom Delay said:

Cutting the costs of offshore wind quickly is the greatest challenge facing the industry over the coming few years. Having identified that lower cost foundations remove significant cost we are delighted to be working with DONG Energy to take this exciting design forward and sharing the concept with other players in the industry.

Vice President at DONG Energy Wind Power, Tove Feld said:

The interest from the Carbon Trust OWA, and the decision to co-fund the full scale demonstration is a great recognition from important developers in the industry of the prospect of this promising new foundation concept. Having more developers utilizing the Suction Bucket Jacket will benefit optimisation of design, fabrication process and installation logistics and thereby help to drive down the cost.

“DONG Energy see the OWA as an important part of the joint industry effort to lower the Cost of Electricity for future offshore wind farms. Cooperation within the OWA makes it possible to scope out and deliver larger projects and new solutions within shorter time frames. The Suction Bucket Jacket demo project is a good example of focused industry cooperation, and this would not be possible without the support from the Carbon Trust.”

Tailor-made for future demands

The Suction Bucket Jacket offers a number of advantages, which will be in demand once offshore wind turbines increase in size beyond 5-6 MW and are located in deep water between 30 to 60m. The key benefits of the Suction Bucket Jacket are:

• Significant reduction of the foundation cost

• Environmentally friendly installation process (Negligible noise emission during the installation and shorter installation time, decreasing impact on the marine environment)

• Usable in a number of soil conditions (e.g. sites with mudstone close to seabed surface).

The Suction Bucket Jacket is well suited to the UK supply chain given the UK’s long history of supplying jackets to the offshore wind and the oil and gas industry.

Press Release, January 28, 2014; Image: DONG

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