Money saving monopile foundation

MacGregorMacGregor and Kongsberg Maritime have developed a new monopile installation solution, which the companies say could offer substantial savings for the offshore wind energy industry.

Monopile installation vessels have traditionally been jack-up units and to some extent moored floaters. However, as foundation sizes have increased, jack-ups are predominantly used. They typically employ pile-grippers on static frames, with mooring arrangements to hold the pile steady until it can be securely and permanently fixed to the seabed.

“A pile standing on the seabed will self-penetrate to a certain level, but it is not stable,”
explains Kristina Arutjunova, Director Sales and Marketing Innovations, Advanced Offshore Solutions, MacGregor. “Wave forces can be considerable, therefore the pile must be held still by a guiding frame on the vessel until it is driven down to a stable position. If the vessel is moored very securely, and the sea state is calm, a traditional pile-gripper, fixed to a static frame, can be used. However, these ideal conditions are often not seen offshore.”

Recognising this MacGregor and Kongsberg Maritime developed a new monopile installation solution. Its aim was to deliver significant improvements in the operability, productivity and efficiency of future generations of monopile installation vessel fleets.

Both companies believe that substantial cost and time savings could be captured by applying motion-compensation technology, coupled with dynamic positioning (DP), to the monopile installation process. This resulted in the development of a new pile-gripper solution, which is now ready for the market.

“We have developed a core solution that tackles the efficiency of turbine and foundation installation vessels by replacing lengthy, temporary mooring processes with full DP in combination with an innovative guidance system and hydraulic frame mechanism,”
says Gunnar Thorsen, Executive Vice President Business Development, Kongsberg Maritime.

“Our newly-developed pile installation method represents a considerable improvement over traditional methods,”
Ms Arutjunova continues. “Piles can be installed in a wider range of sea states and operators are not longer constrained by waiting for ideal weather windows.

“Essentially, the motion-compensated pile-guidance frame ensures shorter installation times and increases operational weather windows, adding up to substantial cost savings.

"We are confident that the capabilities offered by this new system will meet the developing needs of the offshore wind energy capture market, especially as it addresses the fundamental issue of handling these larger turbines, but also the need to install a greater number of them more quickly and further offshore,”
she concludes.

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