Does it sound like something you'd need in your loft water tank, or maybe something to fix a leak in your plumbing system?
No. The Suction Bucket Jacket is something which could profoundly affect the offshore wind industry. DONG Energy has collaborated with the Carbon Trust Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) to bring about an innovative and ground-breaking new foundation which could help to cut costs from offshore wind farms.
An innovative new foundation which could help cut the costs of electricity from offshore wind farms has been successfully deployed by DONG Energy as part of its collaboration with the Carbon Trust Offshore Wind Accelerator.
So what is the suction bucket jacket? It consists of three legs welded together in a jacket structure, standing on three giant suction buckets which anchor the foundation to the seabed. The lightweight structure can be installed offshore in just one single operation, reducing the time of the installation and so helping to reduce the costs of electricity from offshore wind, which have always been traditionally higher than onshore wind farms. DONG Energy's target is to drive down the cost of electricity by 35-40% for offshore wind farmprojects sanctioned in 2020.
Has it been trialed yet? The trial has started and is ongoing. A full-scale trial of the Suction Bucket Jacket foundation is being conducted at the Borkum Riffgrund 1 offshore wind farm, located 37km off the North West coast of Germany. It is being hailed as the culmination of work to overcome one of the key challenges that will be faced by offshore wind farms of the future: As wind farms are built further from shore and in deeper water, they will need to be installed without exceeding strict regulatory requirements on underwater noise. The suction bucket design will specifically tackle these challenges. This is why Borkum Riffgrund 1 was selected for testing the foundation; it has a sandy seabed, which makes the installation of any structure troublesome and a challenge. Therefore it provides a more solid case for the evaluation of the concept. A 3.6MW Siemens turbine will be installed on top of the foundation in October this year.
Tove Feld, Vice President of DONG Energy, said:
"It's a great day for us. We’ve now installed the very first Suction Bucket Jacket in the offshore wind industry. The reduction in the cost of electricity and our ability to utilize some of the more challenging sites further from the coasts and in deeper water show some of the potentials that this concept has. I’m very excited to see that the cooperation between the partners in this project, not least with Carbon Trust in the UK, is paying off with specific results."
Tom Delay, Chief Executive, the Carbon Trust, added his comments:
"We believe innovative foundation designs, such as the Suction Jacket technology play an important role in our efforts to cut the cost of energy from offshore wind. This foundation has been designed for serial fabrication and will save costs across design, fabrication, installation through to operation. Full-scale demonstrations are the last critical step before a new innovative design can be considered for commercial projects. We are very enthusiastic about this design and the impact it will have on the industry and we have been very pleased to collaborate with DONG Energy and the other OWA partners to realize this demonstration."
The Suction Bucket Jacket is equipped with a comprehensive monitoring system providing data and many companies are looking to see if it is viable. If it is, expect to see it used offshore in UK waters in the next five years!