C-Power, OWI-Lab, VUB Studying Foundations as They Grow Old

C-Power, which operates the first wind farm off the Belgian coast, has teamed up with Sirris/OWI-Lab and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) to keep track of the ageing process of foundations.

This represents a unique European research into ageing process in offshore turbine foundations, the project partners said, which will allow optimising structural maintenance based on field data and lead to smarter design and construction of new turbine foundations.

During the foundation design phase, C-Power assumed a lifetime of 30 years based on simulation models. However, to closely track the ageing process over this period and to test and validate the simulations, field data was needed on the various external influences affecting the structures.

For this, C-Power called on Sirris/OWI-Lab. In collaboration with VUB, experts from the OWI-Lab fitted different sensors and measuring systems on two of the turbines’ foundations in order to record the external influences as part of a new R&D project: weather conditions, sea and seabed conditions, as well as various types of vibrations caused by the turbines themselves.

The analysis also examined critical welds and joints in the foundation design. To analyse all this “big data” quickly and efficiently, OWI-Lab developed a new data warehouse which collects data from different sources.

The measurement results in this research project will give the researchers and wind farm operators a better insight into the ageing process of foundations caused by external influences. This means that maintenance work on existing structures can be planned more efficiently, but also that new offshore wind turbines can be optimised right from the design stage based on actual data from the field, OWI-Lab said.