New project underway using vibration to install monopiles to reduce costs of offshore wind energy

  • RWE Innogy, DONG Energy, EnBW, E.ON and Vattenfall have commenced a one year onshore-test to validate the use of vibration to install large monopiles for the use offshore with support from the Carbon Trust Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) and the offshore supply industry
  • Project aims to reduce costs, risks and noise emissions of offshore monopile installation in future European offshore wind projects
  • Test results likely to be available at the end of 2014

Conducting research and development projects can provide potential for reducing costs and installation time when developing offshore wind farms. Another promising project has started this week under the management of the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA), a world leading collaborative research and development programme to cut the cost of offshore wind energy: The offshore wind developers and operators RWE Innogy, DONG Energy, EnBW, E.ON and Vattenfall are running a one year onshore demonstration project near Cuxhaven on the German North Sea coast to validate the use of vibration to install wind turbine monopile foundations, seeking improvements to the current installation of monopiles through impact driving. The potential benefit is faster and more environmentally benign monopile installation in offshore wind farm projects.

In collaboration with the certification and regulatory bodies, three monopiles will be installed via vibration and benchmarked to another set of three which are driven with conventional impact hammering, in order to compare their performance through a variety of tests. Bilfinger Construction is the project’s installation partner who are coordinating and executing the installation and testing of the monopiles. The project is scheduled to start construction in May and is planned to run until November 2014.

The pilot project’s objective is to demonstrate that the lateral load capacity of vibrated and hammered piles in sand is to be regarded as equivalent. Furthermore, it aims to indicate that full depth vibro-driving of monopiles in comparison to hammered piles has lower noise levels, causes lower fatigue symptoms and stress to the monopiles, and is faster and more cost effective. Last but not least, this technique shall simplify the installation for large monopiles due to fewer tools involved in the construction process of offshore wind turbines.

“The use of vibration piling has been predicted, and partly demonstrated in selected offshore applications, to decrease the piling time by more than half of that required for impact hammer driving. Innovations such as these can reduce costs significantly for the whole offshore wind industry,” explained Jan Matthiesen of the Carbon Trust, adding: “We are very pleased to run this pilot project in cooperation with industry and operators, alongside certification and regulatory bodies. We hope to achieve valuable insights in order to make vibration driving commercially feasible.”

RWE Innogy leads the project, undertaking and managing the test. The project budget of six million Euro will enable the fabrication, installation and testing of the 21 meters long monopiles with a 4.3 meters diameter, which are currently being produced at the newly established pile fabrication plant of Steelwind Nordenham in Northern Germany.

The outcome of the test will have immediate impact on current projects that are in development in Europe: For example, it will provide timely results to improve the ongoing wind farm design process for the planned Nordsee One offshore wind farm developed by RWE Innogy, which is located about 40 kilometres north of the North Sea island Juist.

For further information please contact the Carbon Trust press office on 020 7170 7050 or email

About the Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust is an independent company with a mission to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low-carbon economy. The Carbon Trust:

  • advises businesses, governments and the public sector on opportunities in a sustainable, low-carbon world;
  • measures and certifies the environmental footprint of organisations, products and services;
  • helps develop and deploy low-carbon technologies and solutions, from energy efficiency to renewable power