On 4 February 2023, Commonwealth Alumnus Dr Pradeep Kumar Dammala delivered an online workshop on, ‘Design of foundation systems for offshore wind turbines’ in Jodhpur, India. The workshop promoted the 2021/22 ACEF theme: Clean Energy, Air and Oceans. The workshop was designed to raise awareness about the use of wind energy as a renewable energy source and the ways to utilise wind power in India through offshore wind turbines. The workshop
was also aimed to strengthen the capacities of the engineering community, academicians, and researchers within the wind energy sector in India.
The sessions were attended by more than 190 undergraduate and postgraduate engineering students from Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) across India and affiliated institutions globally, research scholars, engineering faculty members from various institutions, and scientists from research and development departments in the public and private sector across India.
Dr Dammala is Assistant Professor and Team Lead at the Soil and Advanced Foundation Analysis for Resilient Infrastructure (SAFARI) Research Group, India, and a SIRE Research Fellow at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Dr Dammala’s research interests include earthquake geotechnics, soil stabilisation, and physical and numerical modelling in geotechnical engineering.
The untapped potential of wind energy in India
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), around 80% of global energy production is supplied from fossil fuels, contributing to approximately 60% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions responsible for climate change. The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) stressed the significance of renewable energy sources and suggested nations become net-zero by 2050.
At COP26 the Indian government announced a new climate pledge to meet 50% of its energy requirements using renewable energy by 2030. Looking at the renewable energy options available, offshore wind energy can generate near limitless clean energy, and with a coastline spanning over 7,516km, wind energy could be a transformative investment for the country’s energy sector.
Despite its vast coastline, India does not have any operational offshore wind energy projects due to a lack of developed port infrastructure and higher costs of installing turbines in the sea. Environmental factors such as the active seismic location (>50% of possible locations are under seismic threat) and soft soil conditions have also impeded the implementation of wind turbines.
Offshore wind energy is generated through wind turbines supported mostly by monopile foundations. A monopile foundation is one of the most frequently used support structures that utilises a single, large-diameter foundation structural element to support all loads such as wind and the weight of a large above-surface structure, as seen in wind farms.
Monopiles are traditionally flexible and prone to stability issues when located in seismic and incompetent soils, and as such potentially difficult to deploy in certain locations in India. Therefore, there is an urgent need to address the challenges of implementing wind energy projects in order to rapidly transition to achieve climate-neutral energy supply.
Following a feasibility report (2013-2018) created by the European Union funded FOWIND (Facilitating Offshore Wind in India) project, potential locations for windfarms have been identified across the country. The first wind farm planned is in the Great Rann of Kutch region of Gujarat, on the west coast of India. Gujarat is one of the most active seismic zones of India with soft soil conditions in the region. Developing wind farm projects in such extreme and complex loading conditions, requires special expertise which the ACEF workshop aimed to harness.
Promoting the value of offshore wind turbines to junior engineers and early-career researchers
The one-day online workshop hosted at the Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur (IIT Jodphur) included a series of sessions to promote awareness about designing monopile foundations that support offshore wind turbines in earthquake-prone and challenging soils found in India. The workshop aimed to equip design engineers and researchers with advanced, state-of-the-art scientific inventions to design offshore wind monopile foundations and understand the complexities of implementing such massive structures in seismic areas with incompetent soil conditions.
Dr Dammala opened the day with a welcome address and was joined by three special guests: Dr Ranju Mohan, Head of Department of Civil and Infrastructure Engineering, IIT Jodhpur; Dr Anil Joseph, President, Indian Geotechnical Society (IGS), India; and Dr Abhishek Arya, Member, Indian Geotechnical Society (IGS) Jodhpur Chapter.
This was followed by five topical sessions and a panel discussion led by wind energy experts from India and the UK. The sessions covered the following topics:
- Offshore wind farms: experience from Europe and Far East Asia, led by Professor Subhamoy Bhattacharya
- Challenges in foundation design for offshore wind energy converters in seismically active areas, led by Professor Sumanta Haldar
- Serviceability assessment of a monopile foundation for an offshore wind turbine, led by Dr Ritesh Kumar
- Development of offshore wind turbines, led by Dr Muhammad Aleem
- Seismic resilience of offshore wind turbines – case study, led by Dr Pradeep Dammala and Ms Sumaja
The session experts were Professor Subhamoy Bhattacharya, Chair Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, University of Surrey; Professor Sumata Haldar, Professor and Head, School of Infrastructure, IIT Bhubaneswar; Dr Ritesh Kumar, Assistant Professor, IIT Roorkee; Dr Muhammad Aleem, Assistant Geotechnical Offshore Engineer, Atkins Global; Mr KSRK Verma, Senior Vice President, Adani Solar India; and Ms Sumaja, PhD Scholar, Soil and Advanced Foundation Analysis for Resilient Infrastructure (SAFARI) Research Group.
Revitalising the wind energy sector in India
The one-day online workshop hosted at the Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur (IIT Jodphur) included a series of sessions to promote awareness about designing monopile foundations that support offshore wind turbines in earthquake-prone and challenging soils found in India. The workshop aimed to equip design engineers and researchers with advanced, state-of-the-art scientific inventions
Participants also heard from Professor Subhamoy Bhattacharya about, ‘Offshore wind farms: experience from Europe and Far East Asia’. Professor Bhattacharya shared videos of several classical design examples of monopile foundation executions by European expertise. He highlighted the significance of harvesting wind energy in developing economies like India and having region-specific monopile foundation designs to resist seismological and wind-led loads on the wind turbine.
Following this, Professor Sumanta Halder led a session on the design challenges of monopile foundations in the Indian scenario considering the soft geological deposits and earthquake prone regions. He discussed the need for engineering experts to tap into the wind energy potential posed by the vast India coastline for sustainable sources of energy production.
After the workshop, participants were asked to complete a feedback form and share their experiences of attending the workshop. Overall, participants greatly appreciated the workshop content and provided high ratings. The biggest takeaways as reported by the participants was learning about the practical design aspects of monopile foundations in the Indian context. In general, the participants showcased a high interest in the event and recommended an in-person workshop over a duration of 2-3 days as a follow-up.
Next steps: delivering a forward-looking wind energy sector in India
A post-workshop activity is planned from 18-23 March 2023 to realise the outcome of the activity and address participants’ queries. Since South India has been identified as one of the potential regions for wind farms in India, Dr Dammala will visit workshop participants from various institutions from the region to provide support and guidance as they work towards practical designs of monopile foundations.
Dr Dammala will continue liaising with the engineering community in India to discuss the potential of wind energy harvesting and the challenges faced within the sector in implementing such large-scale projects. Dr Dammala hopes to outline a long-term plan to scale the programme and plan a five-day in-person programme to reach a wider audience within the engineering sector.
Dr Pradeep Dammala is a 2016 Commonwealth Split-site Scholar from India. He studied for a PhD in Civil Engineering at University of Surrey and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Guwahati), India.