• 04 juli 2022
    Pushing back boundaries with standardised foundation design

    Aspiravi and Windbase enjoy partnership going back 10 years

    Onshore wind energy is Windbase’s field, in the Netherlands and abroad. The structural design of foundations for wind turbines is its core business. Belgian green energy developer Aspiravi has been a Windbase customer for ten years. We talked to Fred Popelier (left on the photo), head of engineering & construction at Aspiravi and Axel Jacobs (right on the photo), CEO of Windbase.

    Belgium has been an important market for Windbase for many years. The Aspiravi Group has a 5-20% share of the Flemish wind energy market. The company is owned by 94 municipalities and was founded in 2002 with the goal of generating renewable energy. The Aspiravi Group is involved in managing 382 wind turbines and two power plants for non-recyclable wood waste. Taken together, they generate 1,590 MW of green power per year, equivalent to the average annual energy consumption of 1.5 million households. “We started small as a team of four people in 2002,” says Fred Popelier. “It was real pioneering. We would go to a farmer or a company and ask if they were interested in having a wind turbine on their land. Our first project was worth a quarter of a million euros. The value of our new projects increased to 100 million euros within a few years, both onshore and offshore.”

    Smart calculations

    Aspiravi started working with Windbase when its projects got bigger in scale. Fred Popelier: “We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel ourselves and Windbase offer a lot of experience. They combine pure expert knowledge with the ability to make smart calculations. Which is important, because in our business every square metre you need is really one too many. What we also appreciate is that, in addition to optimising foundation designs, Windbase is also committed to quality. Besides Flanders, we have also delivered projects together in Curaçao.”

    Fred Popelier notes that Aspiravi is looking at projects outside of Belgium. “We are currently building several dozen wind turbines a year in Belgium and in the meantime have also started up companies in Spain and France. There’s still a lot of room there.” Axel Jacobs sees large-scale onshore projects in the Netherlands diminishing. For this reason, Windbase is also increasingly focusing on international onshore projects. “We have already done plenty of projects abroad, as far afield as South Africa. The challenges of meeting climate targets, within Europe alone, are enormous. So there’s plenty to do.” Both men agree that, where useful and necessary, they will continue to work together in the future.

    Certification on the horizon

    Windbase is setting its sights high. Axel Jacobs: “We have been working with a proprietary Windbase calculation method for years, but we continue to learn and improve. For example, in collaboration with Aspiravi and others, we are performing measurements on the behaviour of foundations in practice using built-in fibre optic measurement equipment (location of photo). This allows us to test whether the theory matches reality. Using those insights, we make further optimisations and are able to continue to design safely. We also have our design methodology certified by an internationally recognised authority. We hope to obtain this certification by the end of 2022. We are currently working on a new foundation concept based on certified standard foundations for common subsoils and wind turbine types in all kinds of conceivable combinations. This gives the customer a good idea of the required foundation and its cost early on in the project, and also provides the assurance of an optimised and high-quality product. One option is to work with a transition piece to anchor the turbine to the foundation, which means that the turbine type doesn’t matter.”

    Fred Popelier: “Especially on larger projects, I see opportunities for this initiative. It is a form of assurance that we are looking for at Aspiravi. Turbines are basically gigantic levers stood straining on their foundations. So it is reassuring to be able to leave the design of the foundations to an expert. As such, working with certified standard products is a form of risk management.” Fred Popelier and Axel Jacobs look back with satisfaction on the partnership over the past ten years and look ahead to the challenges of the future with confidence.

    For more information: a.jacobs@windbase.eu | 06 226 83 891

    Photo: © Aron Nijs Fotografie

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