When New York Condition in 2019 awarded a multibillion-dollar deal to Norwegian vitality giant Equinor to develop wind turbines off the Extended Island coast, a single vital ingredient of the award was its prepared use of big concrete foundations.
That selection would direct to hundreds of work, most of them in the Albany location where the components would be produced, and give “large environmental benefit, reducing threats to fish and wildlife,” according to the state that year.
But Equinor has yet to completely commit to making use of all those “gravity-foundation buildings” for the task, or for yet another more substantial wind farm to be manufactured adjacent to it. Its just lately filed development and operation approach provides a comprehensive critique of an alternative solution: applying big monopiles that are pushed into the seabed from a pile-driving barge.
What to know
- The contractor Equinor is hedging on a seeming determination from 2019 to use concrete foundations for a wind farm off Very long Island, boosting an substitute: giant monopiles driven into the seabed.
- The New York Condition Vitality Research and Advancement Authority left open up the prospect that multiple solutions had been offered for Equinor to comprehensive the task.
- A 2019 study prepared for federal regulators by the Anderson Cabot Middle for Ocean Existence raises fears that pile-driving during wind-farm construction could damage endangered whale species.
In the similar report, Equinor famous that a gravity-foundation framework “below environmental forces is additional sensitive to weak horizontal layers throughout the basis footings.” And it states that the concrete foundations have now been “eradicated from thought” for use in an offshore substation which is component of the project for the reason that of “design and style problems.”
Requested this week whether the concrete foundations, which act much like hefty backyard umbrella stands to retain the turbines upright in tense offshore ailments, were nevertheless in the playing cards, an Equinor spokeswoman hedged.
“We purpose to use the finest foundations for our challenge possible — from an environmental, operational, construction and long-time period industrial standpoint,” spokeswoman Lauren Shane claimed in a assertion. She famous the development program “contemplates each gravity-foundation structure (GBS) and monopile foundation styles. We go on to assess the viability of both sorts … as we go toward finalizing the challenge structure.”
Working with pile-driven monopiles has one particular substantial gain about gravity-centered concrete foundations: lower price. But it would also necessarily mean the 600 to 800 promised work building the big concrete buildings in the Albany location could be significantly decreased or removed.
The New York Condition Energy Investigate and Development Authority, which formally awarded the contract to Equinor about some 18 other assignments, in a assertion past week also left open up the prospect that numerous possibilities ended up readily available for Equinor.
“NYSERDA expects Equinor will make the finest options to execute a Development and Operations Strategy that is the most efficient, charge-powerful and protected for marine lifestyle,” NYSERDA advertising vice president Kate Muller mentioned in written responses.
She included that “It has generally been comprehended that precise basis positions might not be possible” for use of gravity-foundation foundations.
Have been Equinor to shift to all pile-driven turbine constructions, Muller explained it would not lower other economical commitments designed by the organization, like “obligations for the supply of about $792 million in in-state paying out and financial growth.”
Questioned if the state would take into account the influence of pile driving on whales and other sea lifestyle, Muller claimed the company is “fully commited to doing work with the offshore marketplace, sector specialists, and stakeholders to make certain New York’s offshore wind jobs are price-proficiently and responsibly crafted for the gain of New Yorkers and the ecosystem.”
Equinor experienced been significantly a lot more particular about its basis designs at conferences and presentations due to the fact winning the award in a ceremony with previous Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2019. At an offshore wind-electric power meeting at the SUNY Maritime Higher education later that yr, gravity-base foundations had been the only option mentioned. The presentation integrated artists’ renderings of ships towing the foundations down the Hudson.
In its latest design plan submitted with the federal Bureau of Ocean Electricity Administration, Equinor has excluded gravity-foundation concrete foundations for use with an offshore substation that sits between the turbines, noting the “operational worries” connected with boat landing and “lodging of the crew transfer vessel.”
As for the turbines by themselves, the report notes that a concrete basis “necessitates the higher soil levels to have the strength to sustain the heavier load. The area may perhaps need enhancements these types of as a individual gravel pad under each concrete foundation “to assist distributing this kind of a load and stabilizing set up,” it mentioned.
Pile-driving a monopile for the turbines avoids people challenges, the report famous. Empire has already studied the “drivability” of the seabed. It identified that driving a 246-foot monopile into the floor would demand as many as 3,506 “blows” of a pile-driving hammer, and as few as 626.
A 2019 study geared up for federal regulators by the Anderson Cabot Middle for Ocean Lifestyle, concluded, “There is ample evidence to counsel that pile‐driving all over wind-farm building has the likely to damage endangered whale species.”