The Blue Hammer piling system developed by Fistuca is due to be ‘used in anger’ for the first time in mid-August, driving a monopile into the seabed.
Fistuca founder and managing director Jasper Winkes said the company has secured all the necessary permits for the pilot project and the monopile is currently under construction at SIF. The tests will take place from Van Oord’s installation unit Svanen.
The pile will be installed in the North Sea around 10 km from The Hague. The pile is a full-scale monopile with a diameter of 6.5 meters and a length of nearly 60 m.
Noise monitoring during installation will be undertaken by TNO and ITAP and pile measurements will be undertaken by specialized companies in that field.
The Carbon Trust first announced the launch of the demonstration project, Blue Pilot, in March 2018. The aim is to reduce the cost of installing foundations for offshore wind turbines and reduce underwater noise during construction.
Part of the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA), the Blue Pilot project will see the deployment of the Blue Hammer pile driver developed by Fistuca, a company founded as a spin-off from Eindhoven University of Technology.
The project is estimated to enable potential lifetime savings of €33-40M (US$40-48) for a 720 MW offshore windfarm, equal to a levelised cost of energy reduction of €0.9-1.2/MWh.
OWA partners Eon, EnBW, Ørsted, Equinor and Vattenfall, alongside industry partners Fistuca, Van Oord, Shell and Sif are contributing €3.2M in funding to the project. Due to the project’s ability to impact the cost of offshore wind, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency has also granted public subsidies of over €2.5M.
Rather than hammering a monopile into the ground, the Blue Hammer concept developed by Fistuca uses acceleration of a water column by a gas mixture to provide the driving force – a mechanism that can deliver a large amount of energy without exciting undue vibration in a monopile.
The Blue Hammer is predicted to reduce underwater noise levels by up to 20 dB (SEL), and potentially reduce the fatigue damage during installation on the pile by up to 90%.
This could not only remove the need for underwater noise mitigation, but also enable secondary steel to be prewelded to the monopile before installation, potentially unlocking ‘transition piece free’ designs.
After the pilot project has been completed the hammer will be available for rental jobs in 2019.