SIMOX & RoboDock receive offshore wind innovation subsidy

The RoboDock and SIMOX projects have have been selected to receive funding from the MOOI (Mission-driven Research, Development and Innovation) subsidy scheme. The SIMOX, a project that is testing various methods to install monopiles at sea more silently, receives € 4 million. RoboDock receives € 3.3 million and is developing a maintenance platform with drones at sea.

The MOOI subsidy scheme aims to help integral solutions that contribute to the energy transition enter the market more rapidly. Nine consortia have expressed interest in the grant, eventually, five consortia submitted an application. The RVO awarded two of the five projects submitted funding from the MOOI scheme.

TKI Wind op Zee (part of Top Sector Energy) helps and supports innovating with wind projects at sea. “I am very happy that these promising projects receive subsidies” says Bob Meijer, director of TKI Wind op Zee: “Offshore wind farms are still relatively new. There is a lot that we need to learn and innovation helps to build and manage as cheap and nuisance-free as possible. That is essential for a rapid roll-out of sustainable wind energy.”

SIMOX: silent methods for installing XXL monopiles
In SIMOX (Sustainable Installation of XXL Monopiles) which is part of the GROW consortium, 3 research institutes and 11 companies are working together to test 4 new silent methods for installing XXL monopiles.

This is vital because noise requirements for construction will become increasingly restrictive with increasing numbers of wind turbines at the North Sea. Current installation methods for monopiles face major barriers for future large monopiles. The techniques that are included are:

  1. Conventional vibratory driving, e.g. vibratory driving with a purely vertical excitation; an enhancement of this technology by means of introducing fluidisation of the internal soil column in the pile will also be tested.
  2. Gentle Driving of Piles: a concept which is an emerging technology that combines a vertical vibratory excitation with a high-frequency torsional shaking.
  3. Blue Piling, a modification to the conventional impact driving which reduces noise, will be included in the modelling of driveability and noise prediction, based on data generated outside of SIMOX.

Key topics of research are driveability, environmental and ecological aspects (with a focus on underwater noise during pile driving), and bearing capacity of the soil. Finally, the implications for decommissioning at the end of the monopile service life will be assessed.

The three-year SIMOX project is part of the GROW program and is led by the team of Prof. Andrei Metrikine of the Delft University of Technology. Deltares and TNO will also take active part in research and test campaign. The offshore contractors Van Oord, Boskalis and Seaway7 will lead the on- and nearshore tests, supported by DOT (Delft Offshore Turbine), whereas equipment manufacturers Sif, IHC IQIP, CAPE Holland and GBM Works will provide the monopiles and installation technologies. Operational aspects will be monitored and assessed by Shell, RWE and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy. Finally, the project will involve environmental and regional economic stakeholders in an early stage.

David de Jager, director of GROW: “SIMOX is unique in its approach with multiple technologies under the same conditions. We aim to test in settings that are as realistic as possible with scaled monopiles in labs, on land and at sea. In the GROW consortium we work together based on our strengths and expertise, that is key to success.”

In addition to the 4 million euro granted by RVO, the participating companies are investing 2 million euro in this project. The project aims to have innovative technologies for the installation of large wind turbines commercially available within 5 years.

RoboDock: the maintenance platform with drones
Maintenance and inspection with manned vessels is becoming increasingly expensive for wind farms located far beyond coastlines. RoboDock was developed by Fugro and provides a platform from which various unmanned vessels and drones can perform inspection and maintenance tasks above as well as below water. The drones can recharge on the RoboDock, communication with the shore takes place on the platform and next to this, safety and the environment around the wind farm can be monitored from the RoboDock. In this project 4 companies and a research institute work together. Source: Topsector Energie & Sif

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