Aalborg University in northern Jutland, Danish development company MBD Offshore Power and DONG Energy, one of Northern Europe's leading energy companies, are developing a new type of foundation for offshore wind farms, called the bucket foundation, with the overall aim of significantly reducing installation costs compared to current methods, the university writes in a press release.
The partners have collaborated on the project for five years and have now installed a prototype foundation for a measurement mast at Horns Rev II, a wind farm currently under construction off the west coast of Jutland, Denmark.
Professor Lars Bo Ibsen of Aalborg University says: "We have installed it for a meteorological mast which will monitor wind and weather. The objective is to show that it is possible, that you can manage it on the open sea, and that the technology works."
But this is just the beginning, according to Professor Ibsen. "Our aim is to have complete offshore wind farms based on these bucket foundations in the future. They are less costly to install, partly because it is not necessary to use large machines for carrying out the work. And if you can save for instance one million kroner per wind turbine by using bucket foundations, it means a lot of money [saved] for farms with more than 100 turbines."
The bucket foundation installed at Horns Rev II is a 43 metre high cylindrical steel structure, with a diameter of 12 metres. It was shipped out to the site where it was lowered onto the seabed. A vacuum pump then sucked the foundation in place, installing it with a vertical tolerance of as little as 0.1 of a degree.
The plan is to continue development and commercialisation of the foundations, so they can be used for many different types of sea bed and water depth. More prototypes will be installed in various locations around Europe.