Moving towards a data-driven design of offshore wind turbine foundations

18 December 2018
Ramboll and Aalborg University join forces in an Industrial PhD project that will provide greater reliability upon the design and operational phase of offshore wind farms. The project, with an expected date of completion in 2021, will be carried out by one of Ramboll’s talents, Dawid Augustyn, Structural Engineer in Offshore Wind, with the supervision from a team of Ramboll experts, as well as recognised professors from Aalborg University.


Ronnie Refstrup Pedersen

Ronnie Refstrup Pedersen

Senior Chief Consultant
T: +45 5161 4574
Dawid Augustyn

Dawid Augustyn

Project Engineer
T: +45 5161 2552

Closing the knowledge-gap

Wind energy is expected to witness a significant growth in the following years, both in terms of size and capacity. Parallel to this development, Ramboll believes that technological innovation will continuously be one of the drivers for capacity-building in the global renewable energy sector, including offshore wind. Moreover, while there have been major developments in the technology of turbines in the past years, we believe that the design procedures can also be updated to contribute to the rapid growth of the industry. The initiative behind this PhD project stems exactly from this premise. 

“The industry has identified a knowledge-gap between design assumptions and the actual performance of wind turbines in operation,” explains Professor John Dalsgaard Sørensen, academic supervisor of the project. “This gap consequently results in uncertainty regarding structural reliability, which is traditionally addressed by the application of conservativisms in the design and further potential over maintenance, leading to higher costs. These deficiencies in the state-of-the-art deterministic procedures are believed to be mitigated by the development of probabilistic (reliability-based) procedures combined with data harvested by means of improved Structural Health Monitoring techniques.” 

In this context, the main objective of the PhD project is to develop a theoretical framework for including measurement data in the design and operation of offshore wind turbines to provide the enhanced certainty compared to the currently used design and operation procedures.

Value generated from data

Within the offshore wind industry, measurement data is becoming a more essential resource substantially contributing to the decrease of both capital expenditures and operating expenses. Upon completion of the project, Ramboll will be able to expand its services towards existing wind farms, providing a framework where novel methods will optimise both the quality of measurement data and its use in new designs.

Regarding future wind farms, it is common knowledge that the offshore wind industry is continuously developing and to succeed in this rapid-changing industry we must meet the current market need to decrease the levelised cost of energy. With this in mind, Ramboll identified a great innovation potential in harvesting the operational experience and feeding it back to the design phase. 

“In doing so, we aim at delivering more competitive and data-driven solutions to our clients that move beyond the traditional deterministic-based design towards a pioneering reliability-based design,” says Ronnie Refstrup Pedersen, Senior Chief Consultant at Ramboll. “For operating wind farms, the procedures developed in this research can easily be linked to the existing methods. Additionally, the harvested data can also be used for fatigue lifetime extension of existing offshore wind structures.”

This project builds upon an innovative concept of the Digital Twin developed within Ramboll’s Energy division by Ulf Tygesen and his team during the past 20 years. We strongly believe that with a combined experience of our internal experts and leading academic researchers we can extend its applicability to offshore wind structures accounting for industry specific needs, e.g. complex dynamic behaviour, predictive maintenance and different business model.

Track record in innovative solutions

Ramboll has a well-established reputation within offshore wind engineering, with more than 60% of all installed foundations for offshore wind turbines worldwide having been designed by Ramboll. While there are many factors that can be pinpointed as the reason to our leading position, our smart engineering approach and commitment to innovation have undoubtedly played a key role. 

Further initiatives include, for instance, Ramboll’s recent partnership with Google to optimise our in-house software Ramboll Offshore Structural Analysis Package (ROSAP). With this cooperation we aim at improving the design of offshore wind foundations and turbines by providing our engineers a platform with faster, more robust and cloud-based data storage and execution. Similarly, Ramboll is using immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) to enhance the design risk assessment and the visualisation of offshore wind projects.

Ramboll Group A/S

Ramboll Group A/S
Hannemanns Allé 53
DK-2300 Copenhagen S
Tel:+45 5161 1000
Fax:+45 5161 1001


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