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MagnaDense aggregate keeps Hywind wind turbines floating upright

Detailed illustration on Hywind floating turbine
Detailed illustration on Hywind floating turbine showing how MagnaDense is used in the floating wind turbine foundation.

LKAB Minerals supplied high density MagnaDense for Hywind Scotland, the first commercial floating wind park.

The design concept is based on a floating spar-type platform which is anchored to the seabed. The floating spar’s turbine is much taller than the hull and has a moving rotor that harnesses the strong offshore winds in the North Sea. The waves, currents, and winds are strong external forces and keeping the very heavy and tall floating wind turbines upright in open sea is a big challenge. A lot of weight is needed to achieve a low centre of gravity in the structure. This solution involved the use of LKAB Minerals MagnaDense as a loose ballast.  In addition, MagnaDense was also used to produced high density concrete with a density of 4t/m3. This was used as a counterweight which aided the installation process and added to the overall weight of the structure.

Wind turbine foundation filled with high-density concrete

Ballasting completed and Hywind now in operation

The high density concrete was produced and placed within the substructure at the construction site, the Navantia wharf in Spain, before being transported to Stord, Norway. After completion, the foundations were transported to the Hardangerfjord, offshore Stord. After uprighting and water ballasting of the foundations, the MagnaDense loose bulk ballast was installed in the floating foundations. Following this operation, the tower and turbine were mated to the substructure before the tow out to its final destination in the Scottish waters. Each structure was ballasted with approximately 5,000 tons of the heavy aggregate and an additional 1,100 tons of concrete ballast.

The five turbines of this first commercial floating wind farm, installed during 2017, is now producing electricity of the Scottish coast. With the supplied >27,000 tonnes of high-density MagnaDense as a loose ballast, the centre of gravity of the floating foundation was lowered and keeps the wind turbine upright. It was of major importance to stabilise the foundation, ensuring it was not affected by sea waves and currents.

Hywind design enabled by MagnaDense

Statoil’s Hywind pilot project offers a fresh and unique concept to the energy market; the first commercial floating wind farm of its kind in the world.

The Hywind tower with its 176 meters above the water surface and the blades with a span of 75 meters is impressive and much larger than conventional and typical wind turbines in use. The sheer size means that it will also be able to generate more power, up to 6 MW/each, enough to power 20,000 households in total. Key to producing energy and utilising as much of the capacity as possible is strong and constant winds. A placement further out from the coast makes this possible. Here the waters are deeper and the floating design was needed to realise the ambitious goals of the project.

In the case of Hywind Scotland, MagnaDense offered the best price/quality for the chosen design. Given its high specific density and very good compaction properties as a loose bulk material, it results in more weight in less volume. The fact that the high density material also has excellent properties as a concrete aggregate (EN-12620 certified) for producing high quality and high density concrete made it ideal for the bottom ballast that functions as a counterweight.

Sustainable material for renewable energy projects

MagnaDense aggregate is manufactured from the natural iron oxide, magnetite. It is chemically inert in marine conditions and does not leach, supporting the sustainability aspects of the Hywind project. In fact and proving the point, we have even bought back material that had been in use for 22 years in Shell’s ‘Draugen’ Floating Loading Platform, which was commissioned at an oilfield 150 km offshore from the Norwegian coast. The reclaimed material was tested and compared with the original shipping analysis that proved the material chemically to be unchanged. With this assurance, the material was again offered to the market and reused as a concrete aggregate.

As a value-added service and to support the financial sustainability of the project, we offered our customer the generous opportunity to return the over-supply of MagnaDense upon completion of the project. This ensured that costs were controlled and prevented any spoil of unused product.

Concrete truck pumping the heavyweight concrete into the foundation.

Important considerations for choosing a ballast supplier

When looking at the cost of a wind project this will, of course, vary with project and circumstances. The cost for High Density Aggregates is often a smaller part of the total project. However, good quality high density material (consistent density and particle sizes, no impurities etc.) ensure negative buoyancy and prevent costly re-work, uncertainty, and project delays.

On time delivery will also be key, and should not be an overlooked factor. Not only aggregate costs must be considered, as any delay caused by product deficiencies or late deliveries might cause time delays and penalties for other parts of the projects which may be very costly. In addition sustainability, pricing and service are important considerations.

Based on these criteria LKAB Minerals have positioned themselves well and are a global leading supplier to the industry. Our MagnaDense offers ideal properties; it is produced in sizes for industrial use and is characterized by high particle density and high submerged weight. On top of that LKAB Minerals can deliver large volumes and consistent quality. Lastly, our company has a proven track record and is a reliable partner with the confidence to deliver what they promise for any project – all contributing factors in winning the supply contract for aggregates to the Hywind project.

For a detailed Case Study on the Hywind project please contact us.