School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering

CEME expertise helps underpin next generation of wind turbines

Barry Lehane

Professor Barry Lehane

Head of CEME

February 2016

The University of Western Australia's researcher’s expertise in the offshore oil and gas sector is now being used to help design the next generation of wind turbines to help power the global renewable energy industry.

Professor Barry Lehane is an international expert in the offshore foundations of oil and gas structures such as rigs and platforms.

In late 2015, he was invited to travel to England to undertake experimental research in the performance of multi-pile foundation solutions for wind turbines.

“The experiments are being conducted at a farm site in Kent, in south-east England, as the chalk ground conditions there are similar to those at the site of a proposed wind farm,” says Prof. Lehane, the Head of the university’s School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering (CEME).

“There was significant concern about the friction that could be generated between the pile and the chalk ground.”

The research is being undertaken in collaboration with Imperial College London for Iberdrola and Scottish Power, a global energy company and world leader in wind energy.

“Using instrumentation that I had developed in the early 1990s for my PhD, we were able to measure the time variations of the radial stresses acting on the piles,” says Prof. Lehane.

“I also trained the personnel on the site and these experiments are now ongoing in my absence.”

In a second international engineering collaboration involving wind turbines, Prof. Lehane is overseeing a research project at the Danish Technical University (DTU) in Copenhagen.

“This research is examining the effect of many cycles of wind and wave loading on the behaviour of mono-piled foundations,” he says.

The research is being conducted at model scale using the geotechnical centrifuge facilities at DTU.

Wind Farm
The work involves PhD engineering students from The University of WA collaborating with their counterparts at DTU.

“The main concern that operators have is not that the turbines will fall over, it’s that that the wind and waves will cause a progressive accumulation of lateral movement and make the turbines unstable or inoperable,” says Prof. Lehane.

“The experimental data arising from this project will be used to test numerical prediction methods.”


Photo:CEME engineering expertise is helping develop better ways of underpinning offshore wind turbines as part of research projects in the UK and Denmark.






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Last updated:
Friday, 11 March, 2016 10:01 AM