Elastomeric bearings for Sheringham Shoal

In 2010, Statoil had planned to begin the construction of an offshore wind farm off the coast of England, in the North Sea. With 88 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 3.6 MW, the wind farm was set to supply over 280 000 homes with clean energy. This project would become known as the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm and would set the stage for Vipo’s introduction into the offshore wind industry.

At the time, the construction of offshore wind turbines included the method of using a grouted connection between the transition piece and the monopile. Word quickly spread of monopiles structures failing due to the loads experienced on the grouted connections, sparking an interest from Statoil to search for a solution in a short period of time. Statoil already knew Vipo’s strong presence as a polymer pioneer in the oil and gas industry, specifically through the supply of advanced elastomeric bearings, previously supplied for tension leg platforms. With installation deadlines approaching, Statoil approached Vipo to develop a solution to dampen and absorb the loads between the turbine structure and the monopile.

During installation

The solution was an elastomeric bearing between the monopile and the transition piece that acted as a preloaded spring to lift and hold off the loads on the grouted connection. The solution was made up of several interlaying rubber and steel layers, where the rubber components would perform and exhibit their unique mechanical properties of load absorption. Each transition piece would have 6 elastomeric bearings pre-installed, the bearings went through a testing and qualification process and was approved to last for the lifetime of the structure.

This pioneering solution still stands proudly today in the North Sea as a great solution and representation of Vipo’s ability to develop unique solutions to complex challenges using unrivalled elastomer expertise.

Model showing the positioning of the six elastomeric bearings