Micropiling technology readying to plant first roots offshore

Design and engineering consultancy Houlder is supporting Subsea Micropiles, a foundations company leading the adaption of land-based micropiling technology to create marine foundation and anchor solutions.

Houlder is providing marine operations and engineering support to accelerate market development and the deployment of Subsea Micropiles’ technology.

An image showinf subsea micropiled anchor foundations above and below water
Source: Subsea Micropiles

Subsea Micropiles will use a new robotic seabed drilling system to install and grout micropile anchor foundations. Mimicking the root piles of trees, the design is capable of withstanding significant axial and horizontal loads with a stable and consistent connection point, Houlder said.

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The foundation technology is said to be essential to reducing costs and environmental impact as the offshore wind industry expands and tackles increasingly difficult seabed conditions.

Mark Williamson, Energy Transition & Marine Operations Director, Houlder, said: ”At Houlder we believe in supporting organisations with new technologies that have the potential to play an essential role in the development of offshore fixed and floating wind. This particular project is a game-changer – everyone is excited about this technology! Subsea Micropiles can provide a single connection point on even the most complex of sea beds, even if the field profile changes considerably across many miles.”

Micropiling has grown to become a widely used foundation and anchoring solution for onshore infrastructure since the 1950s. Advances in underwater robotics are now enabling micropiling for offshore piling and anchoring, which has the potential to disrupt the renewable energy industry and benefit the wider offshore sector, according to the developers.

”Offshore wind is fundamental to achieving global emissions reductions targets and, today, we’re overly reliant on legacy solutions from oil and gas,” Derek Robertson, CEO, Subsea Micropiles, said.

”Moving forward, we have to embrace new, more sustainable approaches, which we believe demands the introduction of a more biomimicry approach to soil interventions – the way the trees intervene in the soil with their root pile structures. As a young company with a bold vision and potentially game-changing technology, we recognised the need for quality partners and the depth and breadth of expertise that Houlder offers helps enable us to bring our offering to the marketplace.”