Offshore wind farms are getting bigger, and are increasingly being located further offshore in deeper waters, creating new challenges for their design, maintenance and operation. Key to their successful operation is the offshore substation, the gateway for the transport of energy to the mainland via undersea cables.

New research being carried out by the University of Rostock and HR Wallingford is assessing the development of scour around substation jacket foundations to provide new insights for the University of Rostock in research funded by the German government.

As the hub of an offshore wind farm’s energy export, connecting each individual wind turbine to the grid, the stability and integrity of the substation jacket and its cables is vital to successful windfarm operation. Failure or damage to the substation could mean lost transmission for the entire wind farm, with repair costs and loss of revenue running to tens of millions of euros. Physical model tests allow for the effects of scour to be accurately assessed under realistic conditions in the laboratory, which can be used to inform and optimise jacket design.

Offshore substation jacket testing 2 1Dr Peter Menzel, from the Sediment Transport Research Group at the Chair for Ocean Engineering at the University of Rostock, said: “For these scour tests, we have provided two models of steel jacket foundations at a scale of 1:60. The data we are gathering in HR Wallingford’s world-leading facilities is deepening our understanding of the effects of scour on offshore substation jackets in the German sector of the North Sea where substantial offshore wind development is both ongoing and being planned.”

Prof. Richard Whitehouse, Chief Technical Director, Sediment Dynamics at HR Wallingford, said: “We welcome the opportunity to work with the University of Rostock on this new research. Studying the time development of scour around substation jacket foundations allows us to build on our existing knowledge of marine scour processes to the design benefit and operational management of offshore wind farms.”

Results of the scour research will be published following completion of the programme.

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