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Offshore Wind Accelerator BLUE PILOT

Carbon Trust Offshore Wind Accelerator launches new project to reduce costs and underwater noise in offshore wind construction

13 March 2018

The Carbon Trust today 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 BLUE PILOT project will deploy The BLUE Hammer, a new type of pile driver developed by Fistuca BV., a Dutch technology company founded as a spin-off from Eindhoven University of Technology. It is anticipated that the project will enable potential lifetime savings of up to €33 – 40 million 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, Statoil and 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 percent. 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 BLUE PILOT 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 publically available later that year.

In the BLUE PILOT 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.

Jasper Winkes, Founder and Managing Director of Fistuca BV, commented on the importance of industry involvement in the project:

“We want to help the offshore wind industry to further develop environmentally friendly installation methods and also lower the foundation costs. Therefore we are pleased that, together with the leading utilities in the world, the BLUE PILOT project aims to deliver the proof that innovations can drive down the LCOE even further. Only collaboration throughout the industry will make this possible."

“Statoil is constantly seeking to reduce the environmental impact and cost of our offshore wind projects. The Blue Piling technology has the potential to be an important contributor in this work, and we look forward together with the industry to develop this new technology.” said Rajnish Sharma, Technology Director, Wind & Low Carbon Solutions at Statoil.

“Vattenfall is one of Europe’s leading offshore developers. We have a strong track record in reducing costs on offshore projects and we have the ambition to become fossil free in one generation, so we look to projects which combine both. We will consequently continue the path of cost reduction in combination with a sustainable future. Joining this project gives us a possibility to do so,” says Gunnar Groebler, Head of Business Area Wind.

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.”

The BLUE Hammer

Fistuca BV developed the BLUE Hammer back in 2011 and originally tested the concept at a smaller scale supported by Van Oord together with a subsidy from the TKI Wind op Zee, a program by the RVO, supporting innovations for offshore wind. After a successful test of a prototype in 2016, Fistuca BV secured investment from Huisman Equipment and the RVO to manufacture a full-size hammer, capable of driving the largest XXL monopiles currently available in the market.

The BLUE Hammer consists of a large water tank that contains an open combustion chamber. Energy for driving the pile is created with gas combustion that accelerates a large column of water. As the column of water falls back to the bottom of the water tank, it decelerates transferring the energy into the pile. Due to the properties of water, this deceleration occurs over a longer time period than a conventional hydraulic hammer, providing a quieter, gentler but more energetic blow.

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