The Carbon Trust has announced the launch of Blue Pilot, a large-scale demonstration project aimed at reducing costs and underwater noise during construction of offshore wind farms as part of the Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA). The project will deploy The Blue Hammer, a new type of pile driver developed by Fistuca, a Dutch technology company founded as a spin-off from Eindhoven University of Technology. It is anticipated that the project will enable €33 – 40 million lifetime savings for a 720MW offshore wind farm, which is equal to a levelised cost of energy (LCOE) reduction of 0.9-1.2 €/MWh.
OWA partners E.ON, EnBW, Ørsted (formerly Dong Energy), Statoil, Vattenfall, alongside additional industry partners Fistuca, Van Oord, Shell and Sif are contributing €3.2 million funding to the project. Due to the project’s ability to impact the cost of offshore wind RVO, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, has also granted public subsidies of over €2.5 million.
The Blue Hammer is predicted to reduce underwater noise levels by up to 20 dB (SEL), and potentially reduce the fatigue damage during installation on the pile by up to 90%. This could not only remove the need for underwater noise mitigation, but also enable secondary steel to be pre-welded to the monopile before installation, potentially unlocking transition piece-free designs. Furthermore, by reducing the amount of time and number of operations carried out offshore, the innovative piling method would improve health and safety and result in a significantly lower installation cost.
The project aims to verify these predictions through the installation of a full-size monopile offshore, using measurement equipment and sensors to validate the predicted noise levels and fatigue damage. The tests will take place during summer 2018 and high-level findings from the study will be made publicly available later this year.
In the project the hammer will be tested offshore at a location in Dutch waters. Sif will provide the monopile, and Van Oord will support the installation logistics. The other industry partners will provide funding and strategic advice into the project to ensure its relevance to future commercial projects.
Michael Stephenson, Project Manager of the Foundations Working Area in the Carbon Trust Offshore Wind Accelerator commented, “The Blue Pilot has real potential to impact the levelised cost of energy of offshore wind projects. We are excited to support this project to validate the hammer offshore and to support the integration of industry into the project which will be vital to its success. It is great to see the whole supply chain involved in the project and collaborating towards the common goal of continuing the cost reduction in offshore wind.”