High-grade steel foundations for wind farm on restored mine

Source of Article: http://newenergyfocus.com/do/ecco.py/view_item?listid=1&listcatid=32&listitemid=2108&section=Wind

A new £30 million wind farm in County Durham is using special high-grade steel foundations recycled from the oil industry.

The West Durham wind farm is the first of its
kind for the UK renewable energy industry according to developers, requiring the special tubular steel pile foundations because of the instability of the underlying ground.

Banks Developments is building 12 turbines on restored land near Tow Law, where the company is based.

The wind farm is being built on a site that was previously a surface mine the company operated in the 1980s.

Five of the turbines will use the steel pile foundation system normally seen in offshore wind turbines, allowing the turbines to punch through "unpredictable" subsurface layers into the underlying sandstone bedrock.

The remaining 100 metre high turbines will rest on reinforced concrete structures built directly into sandstone lying at ground level.

Rob Williams, renewables projects director at Banks Developments, said: "The make-up of the ground on which this scheme is being built is not as predictable as undisturbed earth, and any obstructions, boulders and voids therein could have made it difficult for standard turbine supports to get through to the bedrock.

"Using these recycled steel piles not only provides the extra strength of material required to resolve this issue, but it also adds an additional factor into the sustainable design and outcome of the project."

Work on the site is being carried out by civil engineering contractors Hanson and electrical contractors Agrilek, ready for the 2MW-rated Repower MM82 turbines to be delivered next month.

The 24MW wind farm is expected to be operational by July 2009.

"Work is progressing well at the West Durham site, and we're on schedule to have the first turbines going up in February as planned," Mr Williams said.