|As global concerns increase about the pace of energy transition in accounting for long-term climate risks, the shift from fossil-based energy production to renewable sources, like wind, has been accelerated. Within Taiwan, the national offshore wind allocation plan has set a target of increasing local production to 20GW by 2035. It anticipates that in the decade ahead, the implementation of offshore wind farms in the Taiwan Strait is expected to grow significantly, with multiple new wind turbines placed into commercial operation. |
However, similar to the problems encountered in many countries, restrictions remain on the sites selected for optimal offshore wind farm development. Future development is known to correlate directly with public spending and therefore there is a willingness to invest. In fact, leaving out the influence of variable lateral aerodynamic loads, the greater challenges lie within the highly complex and dynamic coastal environment. A major cost driver for the offshore wind energy industry in Taiwan is the geological uncertainties. Some of the identified risks include: the effect of sloping areas of soft soils, sea-bed motion, complex marine strata, steep topography, obstructions, seismic activity, soil liquefaction and the presence of flammable or toxic gases. These crucial variables are quite often difficult to design for and the information is typically unavailable.
To ensure the whole offshore wind energy conversion system can be installed in a favourable location and to supply a reliable source of energy, a physical design of offshore foundations is the primary focus. This requires an understanding of the mechanical characteristics and dynamic properties of the soil, these include: modulus strength, modulus degradation, damping, stress history and deformation in different locations. Most importantly, accurate test results need to be delivered to the design contractors in
a timely manner. This has led to the first geotechnical laboratory for offshore soil mechanics testing being established in Taiwan. It has been made possible by a collaboration between Sinotech Engineering Consultants Inc. and PDE Offshore Corporation.
Sinotech Geotechnical Engineering Research Center (GERC) is known for its expertise in geotechnical engineering for a wide array of civil infrastructure projects. As a pioneer, it always stands on the cutting edge of geotechnical engineering in Taiwan. In accordance with a certification supervised by Taiwan Accreditation Foundation (TAF) on various soil and rock tests, Sinotech has long been involved in numerous large engineering projects for over 50 years within Taiwan.
PDE Offshore Corporation, the joint venture of Pan Formosa Engineering (since 1983), Dragon Prince Hydro-Survey (since 2007), and EGS Asia (since 1974), provides professional onshore and offshore drilling services. PDE has successfully grown its number and diversity of offshore hydraulic fixed platforms, and is one of the largest providers in Asia. It plays an indispensable role in the offshore wind market of Taiwan.
The Sinotech - PDE Offshore joint laboratory was launched in spring of 2021, its aim was to achieve quality control and assurance of testing data. The laboratory has been fully equipped with GDS Instruments (GDS) systems to perform a wide range of soil mechanics testing, including Static and Dynamic Triaxial Testing, Direct Shear Testing, Consolidation Testing, Constant Rate of Strain Oedometer Testing and Resonant Column Testing, all of which, are important for providing critical parameters required for offshore foundation design. The most crucial factor when selecting geotechnical testing systems was to ensure the accuracy and consistency of reported data, hence why GDS were selected. A summary of the equipment purchased to date can be seen in the table below: