Suction bucket jacket foundation (Source: DONGEnergy)

Offshore wind farms featuring suction bucket-style foundations could be implemented in the UK’s North Sea from 2017 if a demonstration project led by Dong Energy proves successful.

Dong Energy has been awarded £6 million in co-funding from the UK Carbon Trust Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) programme, for a full-scale demonstration of a suction bucket jacket foundation. The utility says that the project will reduce the time-to-market for this foundation concept.

Suction bucket jacket foundations combines jacket foundation technology, which consist of tubular space frames, with suction buckets, which anchor the foundation to the sea bed.

Bucket foundations have been used widely in the oil and gas industry for 30 years, Dong said.

The funding award will enable the firm to demonstrate a full-scale prototype of its concept at the Borkum Riffgrund 1 offshore wind farm, where its performance and stability will be verified.

The sandy soil conditions at Borkum Riffgrund 1 are ideal for testing the suction bucket jacket concept, according to Dong, which will install the prototype this year.

If the demonstration is successful, the new foundation type could be implemented in future projects from 2017.

The development of new foundation types in the offshore wind sector is being driven by the increasing wind turbine unit size and the development of zones further from shore and in deeper waters compared to current projects. Suction bucket jacket foundations have the added benefit of reduced noise emissions during installation and a shorter installation time compared to current foundation types.

The suction bucket jacket is also well suited to the UK supply chain because of the country’s long history of supplying jackets to the offshore oil and gas industry, said Dong.

Photo: Suction Bucket Jacket (Source: Dong Energy)