Are foundations of offshore wind turbines sufficiently protected from the forces of the sea?

(07-02-2022) In his PhD, Minghao Wu investigates the stability of the erosion protection applied around the foundations of offshore wind turbines.

Offshore wind turbines are rapidly increasing in number around the world. The new generation of offshore wind turbines have larger turbine and foundation sizes so that they can stand deeper in the sea and convert more wind into energy. The pile foundation is mostly used for this purpose. An important issue for the stability of this foundation is to prevent erosion of the pile foundation due to large ocean waves and strong currents. Therefore, an erosion protection of stones is usually poured on the seabed around the pile to prevent this erosion.

The stability of these stones or erosion protection is an important aspect in the design of pile foundations. 

"In my PhD, I did a systematic experimental study on the stability of erosion protection under combined wave and current conditions. For this purpose, I conducted and introduced unique large-scale and small-scale laboratory experiments," says Minghao.

"I evaluated the performance of large-scale erosion protection and found that existing design methods overestimate the damage level."

"The results show that there is a big difference between small and large-scale models. The large-scale model results in lower damage numbers compared to the similar small-scale model"

"Thanks to my research, existing design methods can be adjusted so that more realistic predictions can be made about potential damage to erosion protection," Minghao concludes.

Read a more detailed summary or the entire PhD

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PhD Title: Experimental Study on Stability of Scour Protection around Offshore Monopile Foundations

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Contact: Minghao Wu, Vicky Statigaki, Peter Troch

Minghao Wu

Mr. Minghao Wu was born in 1988 in Tongling, China. He received his Master's degree of Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering in 2016 at Chalmers University of Technology.

Since 2017, he has been working as a PhD researcher at the Department of Civil Engineering of Ghent University. His research focuses on the scour protection around offshore monopile wind turbines. He has investigated the model and scale effects in monopile scour protection laboratory experiments, and he has developed a new design method for monopile scour protection on the basis of experimental results.

Minghao Wu is the first author of 3 peer-reviewed journal articles and 2 conference papers. Besides the research activities related to his PhD topic, he also participates in projects related to experimental study of wave energy converter. During his time at Ghent University, he combined his research with education activities such as giving tutorials in master courses and supervising master theses.

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Editor: Jeroen Ongenae - Final editing: Ilse Vercruysse - Illustrator: Roger Van Hecke