18 May 2016
In Ramboll, workforce and knowledge are flowing between the structural departments for offshore wind and offshore oil & gas. This synergy initiates innovation - for the benefit of both sectors.
Klaus Andersen, Head of the Wind & Towers department in Esbjerg and Aarhus and Bjørn V. Jønsson, Head of Department, Marine Structures benefit from the synergy that exists in Ramboll due to the fact that the company works for the offshore oil & gas and the offshore wind sectors.
More than 65% of the world’s offshore wind turbines rise from foundations designed by Ramboll making the company a world leader within design of offshore foundations. 35 years of experience within structural design for the offshore oil & gas industry has played an important role in reaching this position. However, knowledge sharing between the structural departments within offshore wind and offshore oil & gas goes both ways, contributing to innovation in both sectors.
In the daily work the department for structural design within offshore wind (The Department Wind & Towers) and the equivalent department within offshore oil & gas (The Department Marine Structures) often work together. For example in the tendering process securing a strong project team for execution, and in the development of substations for offshore wind farms.
“We also invite staff from each other’s departments to a workshop or a technical review when facing a challenge or exchange employees when having an overload of assignments,” explains Bjørn V. Jønsson, Head of Department, Marine Structures Ramboll.
When he and his colleague Klaus Andersen (Head of Wind & Towers department in Esbjerg and Aarhus) in Ramboll discuss other synergies, they both mention: Development and use of tools for calculations, design of structures and life extension of structures as main areas.
“During the last decades the oil & gas department has developed a suite of computer programmes which is capable of performing complicated calculations to optimise the structures for the platforms. When the offshore wind industry took off, the offshore wind department further developed the tools as there was a need to design structures for many turbines at a time,” says Bjørn V. Jønsson.
But the synergy does not stop here. Bjørn V. Jønsson adds that the oil & gas department now benefits from this development as it helps them make thorough analyses faster.
Knowledge exchange about jackets
As the offshore wind parks move further out to the sea, thus in environments similar to where the platforms are positioned, the offshore wind industry also benefits from the oil & gas experiences.
“Today, monopiles are the most dominant foundations in the offshore wind industry - but there is a limitation to these structures. As the turbines get bigger, the monopiles become heavier which causes a logistic challenge – onshore as well as offshore. Another challenge is that underwater noise from the hydraulic hammering of monopiles into the sea bed can be harmful to the wildlife of the ocean,” says Klaus Andersen.
He mentions that a jacket design is still a somewhat immature industry in the offshore wind sector. However, it can play an important role in the future as this construction does not cause the same logistic and regulatory challenges regarding underwater noise – a particular example is the use of suction buckets instead of piling, which further reduces the underwater noise. Opening up for another opportunity for synergy.
”The Wind & Towers department is able to benefit from the knowledge about developing and installing jacket constructions from the offshore oil & gas industry. Meanwhile, there is a challenge. We need to get the costs down by standardizing and automating the process, a development which again can benefit both sectors in the long run,” Klaus Andersen adds.
Lifetime extension and decommissioning
He mentions another area of synergy, which is life extension of the structures. The knowledge and expertise from working with lifetime extension of oil & gas platforms can be transferred to offshore wind.
“Within the next five to ten years the owners of the first offshore wind parks will have to make a decision of whether to decommission the parks or extend the lifetime of the turbines and foundations. In both cases it will require engineers to perform calculations that will serve as the basis for making such a decision. And in both cases we can draw on our experience from the oil & gas market,” Klaus Andersen mentions.
The next step for the structures offshore will be decommissioning which implies both offshore wind and offshore oil & gas structures. This opens up for yet another area with great potential for exchange of knowledge.
As Ramboll is specialised with structural engineering in a number of other industries, synergy is not only an offshore phenomenon. Experience is also transferred between other departments such as construction of bridges, airports, buildings, environment, etc.
Read more at www.ramboll.com