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Substations and steel transition pieces: hands-on experience for PhairywinD researchers

Updated: Mar 3, 2022

Most of our PhairywinD researchers work on (often) theoretical matters, which is why it is important to also see how their topics fit in an industrial setting. That’s why on 22/02 we invited them to visit two of our Belgian industrial frontrunners within the offshore wind energy sector: Equans (Engie Fabricom) and Smulders, both in Hoboken.

Both companies offer an impressive and instructive view into two key components for offshore energy: the Offshore High Voltage Substation (OHVS) and the offshore foundations of the wind turbines.

The day kicked-off with a unique visit to the Saint-Brieuc substation on the Equans yard in Hoboken, this will be an offshore platform placed in the middle of the wind farm in order to aggregate the electricity from several wind turbines before sending it to shore. The complex installation of cables, alternators and security systems testifies to the expertise of the engineers and their coordination with the technicians.

Next we were welcomed to the yard at Smulders where we were enlightened with their view on the future of the offshore industry and then were able to experience the massive scale of the steel transition pieces, the links between the foundation and the wind turbine tower, on site. Our researchers were very impressed by the titanic scale of the facilities, the complex steel structures and the technical work behind it all.

Both visits stressed the importance to bridge the gap between research and industry and how both can help strengthen each other. The researchers got a lasting impression of the industrial focus on efficiency (in term of production speed and economic constraints), reliability and security on site. Lastly, they were also impressed by the expertise and enthusiasm shown by the company representatives who talked passionately about their work, which made them proud to be part of the Belgian offshore wind energy sector!

These type of practical hands-on experience helps our researchers to better understand the needs and expectation of the industry and integrate this in their research.

“At both site visits, you could feel that the guides were passionate about their work and I learnt many things about offshore substations (they can weigh more than a thousand tons!) and the massive transition pieces” - Thuy-Hui Nguyen (UMons)

The entire PhairywinD team wishes to thank the representatives of both Equans and Smulders for the organization of this day!

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