The demand for renewable energy is soaring. In the first week of June, Boston hosted the US Offshore Wind Conference. Building on more than 40 years of experience in foundation design for offshore structures, NGI has successfully transferred well-proven technology from oil and gas, to offshore wind.

"The conference in Boston was an important meeting hub for us. We gained insight into the maturity of the US offshore wind market, created new contacts and potential for exciting partnerships, as well as showcased NGI's ability to support contractors and operators engaged in developing offshore wind in the US", says Mr Thomas Langford, Director for Offshore Energy at NGI.
 

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Boston is the capital city and most populous municipality of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the US. The city is located in the New England region and is one of the oldest and most wealthy in the United States.

An emerging market

In Northern Europe, offshore wind farms have increasingly become mainstream sources of power, and are among the cheapest sources of electricity. The US has yet to fully embrace offshore wind as a viable source of energy. However, the State of Massachusetts has recently selected a group made up of a Danish investment firm and a Spanish utility to erect giant turbines on the ocean bottom, beginning about 15 miles off Martha’s Vineyard. This initial project will generate 800 megawatts of electricity, roughly enough to power half a million homes.

"There is an enormous interest in developing offshore wind farms in the US from European operators, many of whom we know well from cooperation on offshore wind developments elsewhere in the world. It is therefore natural for us at NGI to bring our knowledge and expertise to the US, and pursue the immense opportunities with renewable energy in North America", says Thomas Langford.

NGI's US office was established in 2002, and includes one of the largest advanced geotechnical laboratories in the country. From our Houston office we can provide a range of important services with local content and experience to future US offshore wind projects.

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Many of the participants at the conference were interested in NGI's services and experience in foundation design. Left in the picture: Kristoffer Skjolden Skau, Head of Computational Geomechanics (CGM) at NGI, in conversation with a visitor to NGI's stand.

Viable wind

The industry is constantly developing solutions to make wind energy smarter, more cost-efficient and more profitable for both developers and society. Major operators like Ørsted, Vattenfall and Equinor (formerly Statoil) are constantly innovating new technologies to be applied within their new offshore wind farms. NGI has played a key role within this development.

"Offshore wind farms in Northern Europe have until recently required large government subsidies to be economically viable. Recently, with the help of research projects and technical advances, lower prices have allowed countries like Germany and the Netherlands to award offshore wind projects with zero subsidies. The REDWIN project, led by NGI, is a good example of how technology has been harnessed to optimise wind farm design and reduce costs", says Thomas Langford.

NGI is actively engaged in some of the most challenging offshore wind projects in the world, participating in breaking new ground and securing the massive wind turbines on safe ground offshore.

FACTS:

  • NGI is currently installing 20 suction bucket jackets (SBJ) at Ørsted’s Borkum Riffgrund 2 offshore wind farm in the North Sea. It is the first time Ørsted utilizes this type of foundation on a large scale in one of their wind farms. Read more: https://www.ngi.no/eng/News/NGI-News/A-milestone-in-offshore-wind
  • Suction bucket foundation technology has been used to secure and safely anchor over one hundred platforms and offshore structures around the world.
  • NGI's office in Houston was established in 2002, and offers world class geotechnical expertise and consultancy. Our Houston laboratory performs both standard and advanced tests on soil samples, and is fully equipped to perform all manner of soil tests typically required for geotechnical site investigations. Read more: https://www.ngi.no/eng/About-NGI/Houston
  • DeepwaterWind developed the first offshore wind farm in the United States. The 30 megawatt, 5 turbine, Block Island Wind Farm began commercial operations in December 2016.
  • The US East Coast and New England is particularly well suited to offshore wind farms. There is not enough land for wind turbines onshore, and the area is not ideal for solar power.
  • Two of the three recent bids in Massachusetts came from European developers.
  • The NGI-led research project, REDWIN, brings together geotechnical engineers working on the foundations and the structural engineers working on the construction, in order to jointly develop better methods. The aim is to design new models describing soils and foundations that will be integrated with the computational tools used by structural engineers today. This will contribute to optimized engineering and design, resulting in less expensive offshore wind energy. Read more: https://www.ngi.no/eng/Projects/REDWIN-reduce-wind-energy-cost