Suction bucket concept gets test installation

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Universal Foundation continues its partnership with Siemens Gamesa to showcase suction bucket technology with focus on industrializing suction bucket technology. The overall target is to decrease the cost of foundation construction and installation by 40 percent to support continued decreases in the Levelized Cost of Energy.

A consortium including Siemens Gamesa, Universal Foundation, Aalborg University, Fred. Olsen Windcarrier, and Offshoreenergy.dk has been awarded 3.8 million euros by the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Programme (EUDP) via the Danish Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate. The partnership seeks to demonstrate how an industrialized suction bucket concept can slash the installation costs of offshore wind foundations. The specific purpose of this Part 2 project is to complete an offshore trial installation campaign using the new suction bucket concept prototype.

The new concept merges the noise-free installation advantages of suction buckets with industrialized fabrication methods using coil steel (instead of classical plate steel). (Courtesy: Universal Foundation)

The partnership builds on an ongoing project (Part 1) under which a next generation suction bucket concept has been designed and an 8×8 meter prototype has been fabricated. During Part 2, the prototype will be used for the offshore trial installation campaign. The new concept merges the noise-free installation advantages of suction buckets with industrialized fabrication methods using coil steel (instead of classical plate steel). The fabrication method was originally developed between Siemens Gamesa and the Danish steel specialist Ib Andresen Industries for application in onshore towers.

“By applying this innovative fabrication method to suction bucket technology in offshore wind, the steel plate thickness can be reduced to below 20 millimeters, compared to today’s typical thickness of 30 to 40 millimeters for this type of foundation,” said Finn Daugaard Madsen, project manager with SiemensGamesa. “This means use of lower costs steel with higher supply availability. The assembly process is much more suitable for high volume manufacturing, and hence supply bottlenecks can be eliminated and costs reduced. A key element is to ensure the structural integrity of the foundation both during installation and operation. During Part 2 of the project, we are excited to prove the installation integrity of the system.”

“The project is interesting in many ways,” said Søren Andreas Nielsen, head of R&D, Universal Foundation. “We all share the view that suction technology provides some obvious installation advantages, both in terms of environmental impact and costs. Cost of fabrication and supply security continue as one of the challenges to overcome for suction buckets. The competitive environment of offshore wind drives us to think innovation, and this project enables us to cut the total system cost by 40 percent.”

The aim is to mature the industrialized suction bucket concept toward full commercial scale.

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