• Dutch pioneers
    Smart engineers

    Axel Jacobs

    +31 6 22683891

    Having been involved in wind energy since the 1990s, WINDBASE (previously the wind energy branch of ABT) can be considered an authority in foundation design for wind turbines. Wind energy is one the major green energy sources and is literally and figuratively a dynamic and international business. Technology is still developing: more power, higher towers.

    Despite the fact that I only play a minor role in the total wind energy branch, I am aware that my contribution is considered important in the total wind energy project. This is what has always motivated me. The greatest project risks are not the wind turbine itself (which is a “standard” factory made product) but more the surroundings and the soil. Our client realises that and therefore looks for a consultant who is involved and dedicated and who knows how to handle these risks.

    By looking beyond your own project, you can discover new possibilities for development and improvement. Despite the fact that a wind turbine foundation will always be a block of concrete, today’s foundations look different from those designed 20 years ago. As wind turbines have developed, so cranes have grown too. It is now important to consider soil bearing capacity and settlement. Towers have become so high that standard steel construction methods are no longer sufficient and their size means they cannot be transported by road. Innovative and creative solutions are required to address these issues. And that is exactly what motivates me ever since I started in wind energy.

    After graduating, I started work as structural engineer. I also specialised in geotechnical engineering. This combination of specialisations makes innovative solutions possible. I entered the wind energy world in 1995. I am glad that I will still be able to contribute to wind energy for a long time to come.

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    Data-driven design to optimize wind turbine foundation
    Greater understanding of what really matters to the client Question: what is the best integral design for wind turbine tower and foundation? Can the stiffness requirement be made less stringent? And if so, what is the effect on the foundation? How much excess capacity is there really? Windbase parametric and data-driven design provides a broad understanding of what the real demands must be. And 10 million foundation designs that show every possible detail. Chris van der Ploeg (right on photo), computational design specialist, explains: "We are no longer looking for one single solution, but we advise clients on possibilities, influencing factors and sensitivity of solutions. Parametric designs allow us to create mathematical models of wind turbine foundations at different levels of reliability. New about this is the automated, data-driven and repetitive process. What do we see? By including all questions at the start, we do not have to make adjustments afterwards. That approach speeds up the design process. For the client, too." Study for Vattenfall Commissioned by energy company Vattenfall, Windbase conducted a comprehensive study to investigate effects of tower design requirements on the foundation design. Chris: “We used a big data approach to consider all potentially relevant variants, both geotechnical and structural. Data visualizations provided insight into the impact of various design parameters on feasibility, cost and sustainability. Together we tried to find the best integral design of tower and foundation. This step included discussing supplier requirements. One question we reflected on was whether a less stringent stiffness requirement could lead to a more optimal combination of tower and foundation, in terms of money and durability." The study was conducted in close cooperation with the client. Fifteen different locations and five types of wind turbines were reviewed. The data were visualized in interactive dashboards. In interactive design meetings, we showed Vattenfall the consequences and feasibilities of design options. We also showed the weight of criteria in relation to impact. Accelerated design process Chris: "The insights gained may lead to different choices than those that seemed obvious at the start. All possible solutions are taken to the meeting instead of taking back questions to the design table. The interactive, joint selection process gives us a better understanding of what really matters to the client and gives us the opportunity to advise. Our innovative approach to data-driven design facilitates evidence-based decision making. This provides an early insight into cost and feasibility. And it provides more sustainable, efficient and optimized designs." Windbase has been an innovator of optimal turbine foundations for 40 years. Director Axel Jacobs (left on photo): "In this world with increasing pressure to use less material, we dare to be pioneers. Our advanced design methods and a data-driven, integrated approach do not always make things easy for us. But we think it is well worth the effort. After all, our goal is to get a more sustainable world."