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Lyceum 2021 | Together Towards Tomorrow

Join the Seequent team for an overview of how an integrated ground model impacts decision making and reduces risk in offshore wind projects.

Combining data from geophysics, geotech, geology and GIS enables a more detailed picture of ground conditions before structural and geotechnical engineering design occur. The important feature of this model is that it is fully digital and ensures models and data is available to all those engaged with the project at any stage.



Jeremy O’Brien
Segment Director, Energy, Seequent

Fiamma Giovacchini
Customer Solutions Specialist, Seequent

Miquel Lahoz
Product Manager, Geotechnical, Bentley Systems


30 min

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Video transcript

(upbeat intense music)

Hello, and welcome to the Seequent Lyceum

2021 EMEA session.

It is an absolute pleasure to bring you this event

from wherever you may be joining us.

As we know from the past 24 months, this could be anywhere.

It could be from the office, the kitchen table,

the kids playroom, or even sitting outside

trying to get some vitamin D

from being stuck inside your house for so long.

It has been a tough period of time for everyone.

So we hope you’re safe and well out there.

My name is Jeremy O’Brien and I’m the segment director

for energy here at Seequent.

I also have my talented colleagues,

Miguel and Fiamma here with me today.

They based in the EMEA region,

and will be helping us walk through the story

of ground modeling for wind farms

as part of the session today.

Apart from the lockdowns affecting our personal lives

and causing turmoil

in our everyday routines including business,

the world of energy has also been changing

during this period too.

Driven by an ambition of net zero emissions by 2050,

the energy transition has gained momentum.

Hydrogen, geothermal, wind, solar, biomass,

carbon capture and storage.

They are all energy sources receiving

significant amounts of funding

not only to get projects across the line,

but also to perform the fundamental research required

to make sure that energy applications

are ready to fill the gaps,

and the transition to a low carbon world.

In this session today,

we’re going to focus on offshore wind.

Offshore wind is believed to be one of the only renewables

capable of replacing fossil equivalent generation

at a scale which can turn the needle

as part of the transition.

Offshore wind isn’t a new technology,

however, it is never scaled at the rate

it’s beginning to scale at today.

Multiple challenges arrive

around the scale of development on the seabed itself.

And this fast pace of movement towards

offshore floating facilities means

that we’re dealing with engineering problems

that we probably haven’t dealt with in this scale before.

So where do we find ourselves?

We find ourselves at this collision point

of geotechnical engineering, or engineering geology,

for those of that mind.

Geophysics and structural engineering.

But what we’re also seeing is different people

from different industry verticals coming in.

Oil and gas style geophysical analysis

is likely to come to the fore,

but vast quantities of seismic data

are able to be reprocessed

because these areas have traditionally been

explored for hydrocarbons.

Properties models available from this type of data analysis

perhaps haven’t been applied as common practice

in its main before, and could change the way

we understand the near surface.

New state of the art understanding

of soil and rock properties,

and high resolution understanding of the sea floor,

allows us to not only understand that geomorphology,

but to take such things as cables and unexploded ordnance,

to ensure that these projects are undertaken

in a safe and efficient manner.

Now, if we can share our slide.

Boiled down, the point of this is to reduce the risk

around placing the foundations

for these high CapEx costs projects,

including putting turbines in the seabed.

If we put these in sub optimal locations,

this can do things like blow up project costs,

which you don’t want, but also increase the time

to market for this crucial type of energy

through the transition.

An integrated ground model, the subsurface,

including geo-technical, geo-physical,

geospatial, and geological data can help us facilitate this.

And key things like reviewing that decision-making process

around what type of data has been used in different areas.

Having a digital version of this.

So we’re not working from 2D cross sections

and paper based analysis,

really enables the whole project

to be understood from one place.

It also enables us to plan additional data acquisition

or timing different parts of construction in a project

to make sure there’s no overlap

or misunderstanding between these two areas.

And crucially, we actually, one of the big impacts

of an integrated ground model is the ability

for two of the foundations related to the wind turbines

to be put in the ground in the most ideal places possible.

And that’s really important when we start

to think about the ground conditions

that relate to wind modeling.

So what are we looking for?

We’re looking for clarity.

And so, as I mentioned before, we have clarity

when all the different disciplines

around in the ground conditions have a home,

and a way to be able to understand and review each other.

Whether that’s our CAD designs and our engineering drawings,

our geophysical data, our geological data

that comes from CPT data or in bore hole testing,

GIS data that tells us where existing pipelines

or existing cables or unexploded ordnance might be.

But then also the people who are in direct with the projects

like consultants.

We need all of these people to be able

to find the information they need from the ground model.

This integrated model really needs to ensure

that data from these different disciplines

can be understood by all stakeholders as I’ve mentioned.

And also importantly, given we’ve got other

industry verticals coming into this world,

we need to ensure those domain standards

or lack of connection between domains

is removed as we move forward,

to ensure the projects come online seamlessly.

The big outcome from this is that this type of modeling

will provide greater certainty in the ground conditions

when undertaking the structural

and geotechnical engineering required

to make sure the turbines are securely in place.

To highlight the power of the integrated approach,

we actually use a case study based off real data

from the Netherlands.

One of the great things about this project

is the fact that the offshore ground condition data,

is freely available from the Dutch government.

So it’s enabled us to work on this type of data,

and build up models to show you the power

of this integrated ground modeling approach.

We’d like to thank the Dutch government

for the openness and being able to share this data.

Now, my colleague Fiamma, will take things from here,

and introduce the ground modeling process.

Over to you, Fiamma.

<v ->Thanks, Jeremy.</v>

Hello, I’m Fiamma.

I’m the EMEA technical specialist

for civil and environmental.

So the location of this project

is the Hollandse Kust Zuid.

This site is 18 kilometers off the coast

in the area between the Hague and Zandvoort.

This area was auctioned between 2018 and 2019

for a total of four wind farms.

For 350 megawatts each, and a total of 1.4 gigawatts.

The Dutch government performed all the site investigations

to the risks, the tendering process,

and made the data publicly available.

So now I’m going to show you a video.

So the idea with this project

was that the different experts needed to work in parallel.

The project structure mirrors perfectly this way of work

with the master branch, where the integrated ground model

puts together the products

from the three discipline-specific branches

that I will illustrate in a few minutes.

So as you can see, we could generate

a complex but seamless workflow

in this flexible integrated ecosystem.

And we were able to keep constant communication

by leaving comments to each other,

and tagging each other into 3D scenes

as you’re going to see in a second.

The goal for each project is really to create

a strong integrated ground model

generated by the seamless interaction

among the relevant disciplines.

So first, we need to ascertain which areas will be avoided

when placing the turbines because of pre-existing hazards.

So that’s when the geophysical data comes in our help

with contacts from Mac, site scan sonar,

plus preexisting GIS data from public domain,

and seismic interpretation.

So collating all of this information,

we can generate a hazards map that indicates

where boulders, shipwrecks, UXOs,

and pre-existing cables and pipelines are located.

Plus, polygons highlighting the potential

for polyauton notes.

Moving on to the seabed surface,

this is when using a single file generated

by the multi beam survey that represents

the bathymetry of the area,

we can evaluate the seabed mobility.

To be ultimately fed into the seabed

morpho dynamics analysis.

So the little cones that you can see here

represent lineation measurements

that indicate during the migration direction.

So the key of this flexible integrated environment,

is that it allows us to incorporate all sorts of data.

And one of the key components is seismic.

So what you can see here is that we’ve brought in

pre-existing interpretation performed on spots to the data,

and you can also see the result of that interpretation.

These model can further be validated

using geology borehole data from borings.

So this was the seismic analysis branch,

but we’re going to be looking now

at the geo technical analysis one.

So meanwhile, the expert can generate soil volumes

from categorized CPT data.

Utilizing these numerical information from the raw data

to build a geological model.

Another layer of understanding can be added

in digital technical analysis,

and it’s provided by a numeric model

generated from CPT row numeric parameters.

What you’re also seeing here is that as new data

is uploaded into the cloud,

that results in a process of dynamic updating

that cascades down to each product

that has been generated from that data

resulting in an updated interpretation.

So as a next and last step in this phase of the work

in geo statistical analysis branch,

we utilize this tool to generate a block model,

describing the probability to have a certain soil type

into each block.

And we can then provide further validation

to our CPT driven geological model.

So what you can see here is that we are comparing

that soil volume from the more deterministic

geological volume with the probability to have that soil

in each block.

So the brightest the color, the higher the probability.

And finally, the result of this workflow

is the generation of the integrated ground model

that will provide indications

for the foundation design process.

So back to you, Jeremy.

<v ->Thank you so much, Fiamma.</v>

As you can see from that,

we can build a fully integrated picture

of the ground conditions,

which could be likely to be encountered

when looking at putting wind turbines in the seabed.

One really important thing to think about here

is this approach of combining

the different disciplines of geoscience,

and then enabling them all to come together.

I’m really impressed by the way that we can use

geo statistical workflows at this point

to enable properties and understanding in a numeric way

that can be downstream utilized in the engineering

of the design of the foundation to the turbines.

Now I’d like to hand things over to Miguel.

What Miguel’s going to talk to us about,

is why these ground models are so important

when we actually go to the practical step

of wanting to engineer how will these turbines

are going to sit in the ground

and be safely there to generate power,

keeping our lights on at home.

Miguel, over to you.

<v ->Thank you, Jeremy.</v>

So I’m Miguel Lahoz.

I’m a product manager with the PLAXIS product line

at Bentley systems.

And what’s important to remember is that

we don’t do ground models for the sake of the ground model.

The end, the product of our work

is going to be an offshore wind farm

that safely and reliably produces electricity.

So it’s the job of the foundation designer,

and if we could pull up the slides please,

to ensure that the structure and the surrounding ground

will work together to resist the massive actions

that are imposed on these ever-growing turbines.

And also have to make sure that we can install

and commission these in a very harsh environment.

And in an ideal world, everything would work linearly.

We would know in advance where these foundations will go.

And then we would drill there, get wholesale information,

all the data that we need for our design,

and just proceed from there.

But the reality is very different,

and the layout of these type of offshore wind farms

depend on many, many parameters that are interrelated.

So that then it needs to be a very iterative process

with even hundreds of iterations.

Because as we were mentioning before,

many factors condition the locations of these.

We need to avoid geo hazards.

We need to consider the block and wake effects

that these turbines produce on the wind

that insides on them.

And we also need to optimize the costs,

the global cost of our wind farms, not only the foundations,

but also the cables that interlink them.

So then we have…

I see there’s some factors that determine the location.

The location will determine the design of the foundation,

and the design of the foundation will determine its cost.

So then it feeds back again into the process.

So we need to go into these loop several times.

And for that, we also need to take into account

these evolving, these dynamic modeling,

and these evolving of the information

that we have available.

So at the beginning, we will have our conceptual designs

with very simple models that require very little information

with which we can iterate quickly.

And as the project advances

and we get more and more information,

and we are able to predict

more aspects of the soil structure behavior,

we will advance into more detailed models

that require more parameters

and more information from the ground

for the analysis.

Another aspect to consider is the seabed mobility

that we were discussing before.

Not only, we’re not exactly sure

of what our soil parameters will be,

we’ll have them evolving in time.

The position of the seabed can change

during the lifetime of the structure

by plus minus say, five meters.

And this needs to be considered in our design,

even added into more local effects,

like the scour that the foundations themselves produce.

So to take into account all of those,

we have our geo-technical models,

and there are many considering

very different aspects of the soil behavior.

But what is important about those,

is that all our design tools are deterministic.

So in the end, we need to consider

a more or less homogeneous soil unit

that has specific numerical parameters.

And of course, we can vary these parameters,

but every variation that we do is one initial analysis.

So it has its cost.

So we need to move from a percentage likelihood

to something that actually models

the behavior of the soil that has a numerical value

that will produce certain conclusions

that we can verify or validate.

And same happens with the soil structure interaction.

Our ground and our structure don’t work in isolation.

They actually contribute in combination

to the strength of the system,

and our design tools need to model those.

They need to model the slipping and the gapping

that will occur between the foundation

and the surrounding ground.

Same as with the material models.

The properties of these soil structure interaction

are dependent on our location, on the type of soil,

and on the numerical parameters that we’re assuming

for each of our soil units.

So as the project advances, they will evolve

and they will get more and more detailed.

And for many years, we have been tackling this the old way,

I would say, by passing pieces of paper around or PDFs,

which are essentially digital representations

of a piece of paper.

But a central integrated ground model

that is updated dynamically

goes a long way in getting us all on the same page,

and helping us get more reliable and faster designs

for offshore wind farm.

So thank you, Jeremy, and back to you.

<v ->Thank you, Miguel.</v>

There’s really interesting insights

into the downstream impacts of the uncertainty

around understanding ground conditions,

and whether or not you have that information at hand

to be able to get an optimal design

for the foundation for your wind turbine.

So I hope that what you’ve seen in the past few minutes,

as you’ve seen a quite comprehensive overview

of an approach to an integrated ground model,

which enables not only the geological parameters offshore

to be understood, but the inclusion of anthropogenic items

such as cables, and UXOs,

and other items on the sea floor to be understood.

And all those things that then be included

with detail and analysis of the soil structure,

predictive geo statistical models of where

a particular soil type might be,

and utilizing seismic data, which may have been collected

years ago and reprocessing that

to enable further detailed analysis.

They’re all newly collected data for that matter.

So what we are seeing is this real collision

of different geosciences,

which have come from different industries

coming into this world, which is really exciting.

You then see the importance of that information

flowing then onto the actual design for the foundations

for the assets themselves.

Once the assets themselves are built,

we do not want to be coming back

and look at these again later.

So I think what you’ve started to see

is the interaction between the subsurface,

and then the construction and design

of the actual structures,

which are generating the electricity is really important.

Because at the end of the day,

what we’re offsetting here is a base load power generation,

which has been around for decades.

And we need to make sure the reliability

and the engineering associated with the new power sources

as we go through the energy transition,

is kept at a level which is high enough

to make sure that these things are reliable

in delivering us the power that can keep our lights on

and homes warm at the end of our day.

So with that, I really like to thank you for dialing in

and listening to the session on the integrated ground model.

And we really look forward to working with organizations

and helping them de-risk the underground

relating to these offshore wind projects around the world.

Thanks again for your time,

and we look forward to speaking with you all soon.

(upbeat intense music)