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Scour behaviour and scour protection for


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Scour Behaviour and Scour Protection for Monopile


Foundations of Offshore Wind Turbines
J.H. den Boon1, J. Sutherland2, R. Whitehouse2, R. Soulsby2,
C.J.M. Stam3, K. Verhoeven3, M. Hgedal4, T. Hald4
1

E-Connection Project BV, PO Box 101, 3980 CC, Bunnik, The Netherlands,
den.boon@e-connection.nl, phone +3130-6598000, fax +3130-6598001
2

HR Wallingford, Howbery Park, Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 8BA, UK.


j.sutherland@hrwallingford.co.uk, r.whitehouse@hrwallingford.co.uk,
r.soulsby@hrwallingford.co.uk, phone +44 (0)1491 835381
3

Van Oord, P.O. Box 8574, 3009 AN Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


ee.eng@vanoord.com, phone +31 (0)10 447 8444

Vestas Wind Systems A/S, Alsvej 21, DK-8900 Randers, Denmark.


mhl@vestas.com

Summary
A physical model test study has been performed on the occurrence and prevention of erosion holes (scour) around
mono pile foundations of offshore wind turbines on sandy soils. Hydraulic tests were made using a 1:47.25 scale
model of monopiles for the VESTAS V80 wind turbine for the Q7-WP wind farm in the Dutch sector of the North
Sea. It is found that a scour hole of 6 to 7.4 meter depth developed around the 4.2 m diameter monopile, depending
on current and wave conditions. In order to prevent the erosion, scour protection with rock dump layers can be
applied. In the study static and dynamic scour protection designs were tested.
The following new knowledge was gained from the physical model tests, with monopile diameter P:

The average maximum scour depth around the monopiles without a scour protection present was found to be
1.75P;

Both static and dynamic scour protection functioned satisfactorily to prevent erosion around the monopiles;

Significantly smaller rock can be used for dynamic scour protection, compared to static scour protection;

Spacings of 33P and 56P were not large enough to prevent any influence from the upstream pile (turbulence,
vortices etc.) on the developing scour depth of the downstream pile.
The Opti-Pile Design Tool was devised to predict scour hole formation and the size of rock needed for both dynamic
and static scour protection schemes. The Opti-Pile design tool was calibrated using existing physical model test
results and data from the Q7 physical model tests. It was then tested using data collected independently for the Horns
Rev and Scroby Sands wind farms and a monopile in the N7 sector of the North Sea. In all these cases the design
tool performed well.

Keywords
Scour, scour protection, monopile, offshore wind turbine, rock armour, physical model, design tool, Opti-Pile.

Introduction
Offshore wind turbines are presently perceived as one of the most environmentally friendly sources of electrical
power, being a non-polluting renewable resource that causes minimal human, ecological and environmental impacts.
Offshore wind farms are now being proposed for, or built in, increasingly hostile hydrodynamic

environments. It is essential that the turbine monopiles are optimised for these severe conditions if their
operation is to be reliable and cost-effective. Many candidate sites for offshore wind turbine parks are located on
seabeds of mobile sediments. In these cases, the interaction of the sediments with the turbine support structure must
be taken into consideration. In particular the soil-mechanics aspects of the foundations, the effects of flow- and
wave-induced scour of the sediments, and the possible need for some means of scour protection must be evaluated.
Scour is the erosion of sediment in the vicinity of a structure, leading to a lowering of the seabed directly surrounding
the structure. This can potentially be detrimental to the stability of the structure and its fatigue life.
The objective of the study was to improve understanding of scour behaviour and to aid the design of scour protection
systems for offshore monopile foundations located on sandy seabeds. Cohesive sediments such as silts, muds and
clays need a rather different treatment to that considered here. A good recent account of soil-mechanics and
geotechnical aspects of the foundations of wind turbines was given by Byrne and Houlsby[1]. The results presented
from this study were used to calibrate the Opti-Pile Design Tool, which is applicable to:

A rigid vertical circular-cylindrical monopile;

Water depth greater than the monopile diameter;

Sandy sediment, with median grain diameter in the range 0.06mm to 2mm and less than 5% by weight having
grain diameters less than 0.06mm;

Seabeds exhibiting either a flat bed, or sand-banks, or sand-waves, or general bed movement;

Tidal and wind-induced currents;

Wind-generated water waves, assumed to be non-breaking;

No significant biological influences.


This paper is aimed at monopiles in European shelf seas, such as the North Sea, although many of the principles are
applicable elsewhere also. There are three main aspects to this paper. The first is the description of the principles of
scour and scour protection. This includes a description of the Opti-Pile design tool, an Excel spreadsheet devised by
HR Wallingford for E-Connection BV and all co-operating partners (Mammoet-van Oord, Vestas, Smulders Group
and Fabricom Oil & Gas) to assist with the calculations of many of the key design parameters. The second is a
description of a set of physical model tests of scour and scour protection systems around a monopile, subject to waves
and currents. These tests were used to optimise the design of the scour protection for the Q7 Wind Park and to
calibrate the Opti-Pile spreadsheet. An example of a physical model at the end of a test is shown in Figure 1. The
tests have been performed at HR Wallingford, in cooperation with the Engineering Department of Van Oord. The
third main aspect of the paper is the independent verification of the Opti-Pile Design Tool, using data from other
offshore Wind Parks. A summary and conclusions follow.

Figure 1. Overhead photograph at end of physical model test. Waves and currents were from top to bottom.
Top of monopile was removed for photograph.

The work was carried out as part of the Opti-Pile project (Optimisation of Monopile Foundations for Offshore Wind
Turbines in Deep Water and North Sea conditions) and as part of the design of the Q7 Wind Park in the Dutch sector
of the Southern North Sea.

Principles of scour and scour protection


Factors affecting scour and scour protection
When designing monopiles to withstand the environmental conditions it is necessary to consider the following factors
that can cause scour:

When tidal or other currents encounter a structure on the seabed they locally increase in speed and turbulencelevel in such a way that the surrounding seabed is progressively eroded, causing a scour pit;

Similar processes apply if the water is shallow enough that wave-induced oscillatory velocities are appreciable at
the seabed;

The level of the sediment at the base of the structure can also be influenced downwards or upwards by natural
movements of the surrounding seabed, such as the migration of sandwaves, changes in shape of sandbanks, and
other natural (e.g. seasonal) changes in bed elevation;

Fine sediments can be liquefied by wave action[2], particularly if the waves are reflected by the structure. This
usually applies more to silts with grains finer than 0.06mm than to sand with larger grain sizes, but can also
occur in loose sands, or dense sands with a small percentage of dissolved gas in the interstitial pore fluid. It
could lead to catastrophic failure of the foundations (e.g. settlement or loss of skin friction), so calculations must
be made to establish whether liquefaction could occur at the study site.

Principles of scour
A number of excellent text-books on scour at the seabed have appeared in recent years[2, 3, 4]. This paper draws
heavily on information and methods found in these books, adapting them to the specific case of wind-turbine
monopiles.
When a steady current encounters a cylindrical vertical pile, the flow speeds up around the periphery of the pile,
producing a horse-shoe vortex and a highly turbulent wake in the region downstream of the pile. The combined
effect is to carry sediment away from the foot of the pile in all directions, creating a scour pit roughly shaped like an
inverted cone. The depth and horizontal extent of the scour pit are found to scale with the diameter P of the pile.
The depth and extent of the scour also depend on the current speed. In what follows we denote the depth-averaged
current speed as Uc, and the threshold value of Uc at which the sand on the undisturbed seabed (i.e. far from the pile)
just starts to move as Uc,cr:

If the current speed Uc < 0.5 Uc,cr the bed remains stable, and no scour develops;

If 0.5 Uc,cr < Uc < Uc,cr then a scour hole develops whose depth and extent increase with Uc. This is termed
clear-water scour, because only the bed in the immediate vicinity of the pile is moving;

If Uc > Uc,cr then a scour hole develops to a depth which varies slowly with current speed. This is termed livebed scour, because the sediment all over the bed is moving. In this case, moving sand ripples and sandwaves
may be present and they will periodically cascade into the scour pit.
The rate at which the scour depth develops to its equilibrium (deepest) value is greater for stronger currents. This is
only an important factor when considering temporary installations, since for permanent installations the time taken to
reach the equilibrium depth is small compared to the lifetime of the structure.
The scour depth is also affected by other factors:

If the water depth h is less than about 4P, then the depth and extent of scour are progressively reduced with
decreasing h/P [4];

If the sediment is widely graded, then the depth and extent of scour are progressively reduced with increasing
width of grading.
The effect of waves on scour is determined by the oscillatory velocities they generate at the seabed. The development
of scour by waves in the live-bed case is determined by the Keulegan-Carpenter number KC = UmT/P[2, Figure 6.21], with
Um a representative velocity amplitude of the irregular wave spectrum.

For KC < 6, and in the absence of currents, scour does not occur;

For 6 < KC < 200 the scour depth and extent increase with KC;

For KC > 200 the scour depth and extent are equal to the steady flow case, and do not depend on KC (large KC
corresponds to wave periods that are so long as to behave like quasi-steady flows).
Sumer and Fredse[2] showed that for a spectrum of irregular waves, the best representation of the KeuleganCarpenter number was KC = UmTp/P where Um = 1.41Urms, with Urms the root-mean-square wave orbital velocity at

the sea-bed and Tp the wave period at the peak of the spectrum. For very wide structures (e.g. gravity-base
structures) the effects of wave diffraction by the structure become important.
Scour by combined current and waves has to take both processes into account. Considering the case of live-bed
wave-induced scour with KC > 6, the characteristics of the scour pit vary as follows. Starting from the wave-only
case, the scour depth and extent become progressively greater as a progressively stronger current is added, until the
maximum depth is reached for the case of a current alone with no waves. Thus both Uc/Uc,cr and KC are important in
determining the scour depth and extent. If KC < 6, then scour may take place, depending on the strength of the
current. The greatest scour depth is attained for the case of a current alone, without waves.
Other significant factors are:

Only live-bed conditions are reported in the books;

The direction of the waves relative to the currents does not appear to affect the scour depth and extent for a
circular monopile in experiments, even though the maximum value of the peak bed shear stress occurs for colinear waves and currents.

Principles of scour protection


The commonest method of protecting the seabed around a monopile structure against scour is by placement of rocks
that are large enough to be stable (to an acceptable degree) under the largest design wave and current conditions. Bed
protection by such means is dealt with in various books [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].
Two approaches to the design of the rock protection can be followed:

Static design: a rock armour protection layer is placed on the seabed surrounding the monopile shortly after the
pile is installed. This is laid over a filter layer of finer material, placed to prevent sand being winnowed out
between the rocks of the main protection layer. The filter layer is placed before installing the pile foundation;

Dynamic design: a scour pit is allowed to develop to its equilibrium depth and extent around the monopile with
no scour protection (or filter layer) in place. The scour pit is subsequently partly or wholly filled with a widegraded rock armour.
For the static design, scour is expected to occur around the edge of the rock protection layer, degrading the edges of
the rock protection into a falling apron. The extent of the falling apron must be such that an adequate width of
unaffected rock protection remains around the pile itself. This means that the initial diameter of the protected area
must be large enough to accommodate the maximum extent of degraded falling apron. The design requires values to
be specified of:

Size and grading of rock armour that will be stable to within a stated criterion against design values of waves
and currents;

Size and grading of filter layer that will prevent sand being winnowed through the armour layer, and will be
stable against milder conditions before the armour layer is placed;

Diameter and thickness of the extent of the rock armour and filter to take account of edge scour and natural bed
level changes;

Behaviour of the scour protection with respect to natural bed level changes.
For the dynamic design, the seabed around the base of the monopile (without topsides) is allowed to develop a large
scour pit, which may take some weeks to reach its maximum depth and extent. This scour pit is then (partly) filled
with rock of a wider grading than the static design (because no filter layer is used) to fix the top level of the pile
foundation. For the dynamic design, the monopile must be designed to withstand the exposure while the scour pit is
open. The design requires values to be specified of:

Maximum depth and extent of scour pit around the monopile after exposure to waves and currents;

Size and grading of rock protection, of a given density;

Depth to which the scour pit must be filled to provide stability of the rock and the monopile.
In both cases account must be taken of the natural variations in the level of the seabed due to movement of
sandwaves, sandbanks and general bed movement. A fall in seabed level will undercut the edges of the rock
protection, enhancing the falling apron effect, and necessitating a wider initial extent of the rock protection to
maintain an adequate undisturbed width of protection around the pile.
In both cases, the stable size of rock can be determined using a Shields threshold approach. This compares the
disturbing forces on the rocks due to the drag and pressure forces exerted by the combined currents and waves with
the stabilising force due to the submerged weight of the rock. The flow speed-up and enhanced turbulence effects
around the pile described in the preceding section must be taken into account. The acceptable value of the ratio of
forces (taking account of the presence of the pile) depends on the criterion set for stability. The limiting value will be
smaller (and hence the rock size will be larger) if it is stipulated that no rocks must move anywhere than if some
minimum amount of movement is allowed.

Calculations within Opti-Pile Design Tool


Depth and extent of scour
The Opti-Pile Design Tool takes a series of wave heights and periods as input, or will calculate values for a range of
wave heights and periods from zero to a maximum specified. The irregular wave spectrum is represented by a
regular wave with a velocity amplitude U m = 2 U rms where Urms is the root-mean-square orbital velocity due to the
wave spectrum, and T = Tp. An explicit expression for orbital velocity amplitude was used in the spreadsheet, derived
from a parameterisation of linear theory[8]. As with the wave information a series of depth-averaged current speeds
and wave-current angles or a specified maximum is also input.

The maximum bed shear-stress, tmax, generated by the combined waves and currents determines whether the
undisturbed seabed is mobile, and if so whether clear-water or live-bed scour takes place. This is calculated using the
DATA2 method[7], which has been shown to be both simple and accurate.
The scour depth due to currents alone is given by the Breusers formula, with the maximum scour depth, Smax = aP.
The value of a is the subject of much debate, with estimates ranging from 1 to 2.7. For the Opti-pile Design Tool the
value of a was calibrated using the Q7 physical model tests and a comprehensive set of experiments undertaken by
Sumer and Fredsoe[2,9] who quote an average current-induced scour depth of S/P = 1.3, with a standard deviation of
0.7. However, the value of a adopted for the Opti-Pile Design Tool is a =1.75, as discussed later. A correction is
made for the effect of relative water depth, adapted from the Breusers formula to give a better fit to data shown in
Fig. 3.26 of Sumer and Fredse[2]. The effect of a wider grading of sediment is taken account of by introducing
another factor, which has been fitted to data shown in Fig. 3.25 of Sumer and Fredse[2].
The wave-induced scour depth, Sw, is given as a function of the Keulegan Carpenter number, KC = Um Tp/P. The
scour depth under waves and currents tapers from the current-only case to the wave-only case using a function
originally devised for wave and current bed shear stresses[7].
The horizontal extent of the scour from the side of the monopile is calculated using the scour depth and the angle of
the side slope of the scour holes, fs. This angle has been determined from measurements made during the Q7
physical models tests. The horizontal extent, E, of the scour pit is then given by:
E = S / tanfs.

Size of dynamic and static rock armour


The values entered for the scour calculations of water depth, wave height and period, and current speed and direction
are used also for the rock stability calculations. The wave orbital velocity is again taken as Um, and the calibration of
subsequent stability coefficients is based on this measure of orbital velocity. Note that if a larger measure of the
orbital velocity had been used (e.g. based on H = Hs or Hmax) the approach would be the same, but the values of the
stability coefficients would be different.
The size of rock that is stable under the design waves and currents is calculated using the Shields threshold approach.
The maximum bed shear-stress tmax due to combined waves and currents is obtained as for sand, using the wave
orbital velocity Um. Since these calculations apply to the rocks rather than the sand, the sand grain diameter d50 must
be replaced by the rock diameter D50. The corresponding Shields parameter q can be written as
q max = t max / [g (r s - r )D50 ] where rs is the density of the rock. The coefficients take values appropriate to rocks
rather than sand (i.e. for large values of D50/(UwT))[10]. These were based on direct measurements of the total force
exerted on (model) rocks, and hence include the effects of the wave-induced pressure gradient and the added-mass
effect which are important for large values of D50/(UwT). It also means that these additional effects do not have to be
accounted for separately, as they would have to be for most other formulae[7].
The choice of formula for the specification of friction factor, has a significant effect on the interpretation of the result,
as it affects how max varies with changes in rock size. The friction factor formula used[10] gives a weak dependence
of max on D50, which does not differentiate the boundary of stability as clearly as some other formulae. In principle,
it would be possible to tune the friction factor equation to match the observed stability of rock protection in the
physical model experiments. However, for the present purposes it was decided that it was more defensible to use the
most appropriate formula from the literature.
The criterion for stability of rock protection around a monopile is thus given by the parameter Stab defined by:
Stab = q max /q cr
where

qcr
is the threshold Shields parameter.
The value qcr = 0.056 (for stone diameters larger than 10mm) is taken [5, p.299] in combination with the maximum bed
shear stress. Critical values of Stab must be set to establish whether a particular size of rock meets the design criteria.
To do this, a decision must be taken regarding the criterion for the acceptable limit of movement of the rocks.
Examples of definitions of failure provided by Van Oord for static and dynamic scour protections are:

a)
b)

A static scour protection is considered to have failed when a section of top layer armour material has
disappeared completely over its full depth exposing the filter layer material over a minimum area of four
armour units (4.D502);
A dynamic scour protection. As the above definition for failure can not be applied here (no filter layer
becomes visible), it is assumed that a dynamic protection fails when a volume of rock has disappeared equal to
the volume of rock that is necessary to disappear for failure of a static protection.

Extent and volume of armour


For the static design of scour protection, the amount of rock required, and the time taken to place it, depend strongly
on the horizontal extent of the armour layer. This is assumed to be related to the horizontal extent of the scour pit
that would develop in an unprotected situation. The distance from the edge of the monopile to the (usually welldefined) outer edge of the scour pit is related to the scour depth through the angle to the horizontal, fs, made by the
side-slopes of the pit.
The value of side slope angle and hence of extent of scour, varies around the circumference of the pile, and also with
the soil properties. The volume of the scour pit around the monopile was calculated by assuming a conical shape and
excluding the cylindrical pile. The extent of the rock armour scour protection can include a safety factor, , which
can be chosen by the user depending on the safety factor required.
An allowance should also be made for changes in the seabed level. The edges of the protected area in case of a static
design will collapse (whether or not there are changes in the ambient seabed level), giving a falling apron effect.
The width of the fringe around the edge of the protected area that was affected in the Opti-Pile tests was between 1
and 3 rock diameters (without a degraded bed). In the case of a fall in the ambient seabed level through a distance dz,
the width of the falling apron is dz / tan (fd) where fd is the angle to the horizontal made by the falling apron.
The total extent of the protection from the monopile, Es, after making allowance for changes in seabed level is:
Es = E + dz / tan (fd)
For the dynamic design of scour protection, the equilibrium scour pit is subsequently filled with well-graded rock.
The scour pit need not necessarily be completely filled: it might be sufficient to fill it to a proportion of the scour
depth. The mass of rock required is calculated by again assuming a conical shape of scour pit.

Allowance for bed level movement


At most of the offshore sites at which wind parks might be located there is likely to be a certain amount of natural
variation in the seabed topography over time. This arises from a number of sources, provided that the sediments on
the seabed are mobile in response to the prevailing climate of waves and currents for at least part of the year.
Considering the bed elevation at a fixed geographical location, the bed level will change as a result of:

The migration of dunes and sandwaves;

The evolution of sandbanks

General bed movement, such as the summer/winter onshore/offshore migration of sediments.


If the bed level falls in the area surrounding a monopile with static scour protection, then the edges of the apron of
rock armour progressively collapse the larger the seabed fall, the wider the affected fringe of collapsed rock
armour. The Opti-Pile experimental tests showed that a fringe collapsed, which has more-or-less the same width at
each point around the monopile for a given test, but varied between tests. The width of the collapsed fringe varied
between tests but the angle that the collapsed fringe made to the horizontal was within the range 20 - 29. The
design of the extent of the static rock protection can therefore incorporate a safety zone, corresponding to the
maximum expected extent of the falling apron, in addition to the extent of rock armour that is deemed necessary to
maintain stability of the monopile.

Q7 Physical Model Tests


Physical model setup
Two sets of physical model tests were performed. The aim of the first test set was to determine the greatest
magnitude of local scour in the sand bed around the monopile with no scour protection. The other set of tests was
aimed at determining the level of damage to scour protection designs (supplied by Van Oord) for design wave and
current conditions and to assess the extent of scouring around the structures.
The physical model comprised:

The flat fine sand bed, scaled hydraulically so that the mechanism of sediment transport by waves and currents
was similar in model and prototype;

The monopile, outside diameter 4.2m with two I-tubes in place, scaled geometrically;

Scour protection comprising various combinations of armour stone (scaled using the Hudson equation) and a
filter layer (for the static protection tests only);

Multi-element wavemaker to generate short-crested water waves, using Froude scaling;

Re-circulating uni-directional co-linear current system, which passes under the wavemaker, plus sump and
sediment trap at downstream end.
A plan view of the setup in the facility for wave and current tests is shown in Figure 2, while the setup for currentonly tests is shown in Figure 3.
The advantages of such a model are that the stability of the armour rock and the interaction of the rock protection and
surrounding seabed in terms of scour will both be reproduced in the model. However, the sediment transport will not
be reproduced at the same rate, as the sand is relatively less mobile in the model than in the prototype. Moreover, it
does not reproduce geotechnical aspects of the prototype well. For example, the sand in the model is less able to pass
through the filter material than the sand in the prototype as it is relatively bigger, compared to the filter material.
Flow velocities in the bed will be relatively higher in the model as will grain weights.
The tests were carried out in two facilities at HR Wallingford at a geometric scale of 1:47.25. A total of 27 tests have
been performed, in a number of 11 test series. Four of these test series have been carried out in the current only
facility. In the following sections of the paper measurements from the model were reported at prototype (or full) scale
by using Froude scaling. Therefore model lengths were multiplied by 47.25 and times and velocities by 47.25. The
bathymetry was measured using a touch-sensitive bed profiler, which measured along radial lines out from the casing
of the monopile. Changes in the profiles between the start and end of a test indicated either the movement of rock
armour or changes in bed level. Photographs were taken before and after each test to help in assessing the changes in
the bathymetry and damage to armour rock.

Performed model tests


The model tests had to be performed for a 50 year design condition since the design life of the windpark is 20 years.
The 50 year wave height in block Q7 of the Dutch North Sea is 7.7 m with a mean wave period of 9.7 s. The 50 year
local current is 1.3 m/s, this is a depth averaged current for both tidal and wind driven current. Due to the layout of
the test facility and the model setup the actual tested wave heights lie in a range of 6.5- 8.5 m with a mean period
range of 8.9- 9.6 s and the actual current speed varied from 1.01- 1.15 m/s. The range of tested current speed in the
current only flume is 2.01- 2.06 m/s for the upstream pile. The water depth at which the tests were carried out was
24 m.
The physical model tests carried out to optimise the design of static scour protection included:

3 different radii of protection length measured from the pile (15, 25, 35 m);

3 different rock armour gradings: 200-500kg, 10-200 kg and 5-40 kg;

The simulated effect of bed level drop due to the passage of a sandwave was obtained by placing the model on a
4 m high sand mound. Due to limitations of the facility the water depth could not be increased and therefore the
wave height was adjusted to obtain the same wave attack (that is orbital velocity) at the top of the protection.
The filter layer for the static design was 0.5 m deep for all rock armour gradings. The rock armour itself had a layer
thickness of 3Dn50.
The physical model tests carried out to optimise the design of dynamic design had three different in-fill heights: 1/3,
2/3 and fully filled with a rock grading of 50-600kg. In addition three different rock gradings: 10-200kg, 5-40kg, 2-8
were tested with a fully-filled scour pit. Layouts of the static and dynamic initial scour protection schemes are shown
in Figure 4.

Figure 2. Plan view of experimental setup for wave and current tests

Figure 3. Layout of experiments in current-only flume

Figure 4. Initial static (left) and dynamic (right) scour protection designs, by Van Oord.

Physical Model Results


Each test in the wave and current facility ran for one model hour, in the current only flume the tests ran for
approximately four model hours. The damage to each scour protection model was determined using analysis of radial
bed profiles and overhead photographs, such as Figure 1. The upstream (Line 5) and downstream (Line 6) radial
profiles of the test shown in Figure 1 are shown in Figure 5. This also includes an additional profile through the area
of greatest damage. This profile shows that the static armour stone had been moved, exposing the filter layer in a
small region.

Vertical Elevation [m]

1.5
1
0.5
0
-0.5
-1
-60

-40

-20

20

40

60

Radial Distance [m]


Line 5, before

Line 5, after

Line 6, before

Line 6, after

Additional profile, after

Figure 5. Upstream (Line 5) and downstream (Line 6) radial profiles showing changes in bed and armour
levels from test shown in Figure 1. Also shown is a radial profile through the area of maximum damage.

10

The test results were classified into three damage categories based on the example definitions given above by
representatives of Van Oord for both the static and dynamic protections. The damage categories were:
1. No movement of rocks;
2. Some movement of rocks, but not sufficient to cause failure;
3. Failure.
The damage category was stored along with details of test hydrodynamics and armour size and extent. The observed
damage categories for different rock armour gradings are shown in Table 1.
Table 1. Damage categories for different rock armour gradings

Rock grading
200-500 kg
50-600 kg
10-200 kg
5-40 kg
2-8

Static protection
No movement
Some movement, no failure
Failure
-

Dynamic protection
No movement
Some movement, no failure
Some movement, no failure
Failure

For the smaller tested rock gradings significant damage occurred in the scour protection besides and downstream of
the pile. The test results of the dynamic protection with partly filled scour holes showed that with uni-directional colinear current and wave attack the scour hole filled up with sand covering the rock armour, which meant that possible
damage of the protection could not be determined. The partly filled dynamic protection in the current only flume did
not result in fill up of the hole, the used rock grading (50-600 kg) showed no movement.
In the principles of scour protection it was mentioned that scour around the edge of the rock protection will occur for
the static design. This scour will lead to a falling apron. From the test results no scour around the protection was
visible and the only decrease of the seabed that was present is from the ripples in the sand bed around the protection.
Where the seabed is prone to liquefaction; some extra length should therefore be taken into account in the design of
the scour protection dimensions.
The piles in the current only flume were placed at first 33P apart, then 56P apart in the streamwise direction to
enable two tests to be undertaken simultaneously. It was concluded that the influence of the upstream pile on the
downstream pile, shown through measuring the current speed and scour hole depth, was still present with this
spacing. This leads to a scour depth at the downstream pile of approximately 0.8 times the scour depth at the
upstream pile.

Calibration of Opti-Pile Design Tool using Q7 data


The following key coefficients in the Opti-Pile Design Tool were calibrated using the results from the physical model
tests:
1. The ratio of maximum scour depth to pile diameter, = S/P;
2. The angle of the side-slope of the (unprotected) scour pit, fs;
3. The rock stability parameter Stab1,2 and Stab2,3;
4. The angle of the slope of the falling rock apron with degraded seabed fd.
For the Opti-pile Design Tool the value of a was calibrated using the Q7 physical model tests and those of Sumer and
Fredsoe[2], as shown in Figure 6. The values from the Q7 tests lie within the scatter of the Sumer and Fredse data.
The value of a was taken as 1.75, based on the combined Q7 and Sumer and Fredse data. It is seen that the
calculated values lie through the centre of the data scatter. This value, which represents a best estimate, not a
conservative value, is consistent with the values recommended by Sumer and Fredse[2] of 1.3 0.7.
Values obtained from the Opti-Pile experimental tests (4 profiles from each of 4 tests) were in the range 18 < fs <
34. Values of fd from the Opti-Pile experimental tests (28 profiles from 4 tests) were in the range 20 < fd < 29.
The value of stability parameter, Stab1,2, (Stab2,3) between tests with damage level 1 (2) and damage level 2 (3) was
determined by plotting the damage criteria against the stability parameter calculated by the Opti-Pile Design Tool, as
shown in Figure 7. As each damage category occupied a distinct range of values of the Opti-Pile stability parameter,
it was possible to set upper and lower limits to Stab1,2 and Stab2,3. Approximately central values within the ranges
were selected as the values set within the spreadsheet.

11

Calculated S/P

1.5

P=90mm, phi=0
P=30mm,phi=0
P=55mm,phi=90

0.5

P=32mm,phi=90
equality
Q7 tests
N7 North Sea

0
0

0.5

1 S/P
Observed

1.5

Figure 6. Calculated versus observed non-dimensional scour depth, S/P

Damage category from observations

4
3 = Failure
2 = Some movement but no failure

1 = No movement

0
0

0.1

0.2

0.3

0.4

0.5

0.6

Opti-Pile stability parameter

Figure 7. Damage category determined from model test photos and profiles against Opti-Pile stability
parameter, Stab. Vertical lines are the values of Stab1,2 = 0.415 and Stab2,3 = 0.460 determined from the tests.

12

Independent testing of Opti-Pile results


The stone size applied in the scour protection for the Horns Rev and Scroby Sands offshore wind farms has been
recalculated using the Opti-Pile Design Tool, as has the scour depth around a monopile in the N7 sector of the North
Sea.
The scour protection applied at Horns Rev is a conventional static scour protection design and generally good
agreement with the Opti-Pile results is seen. Table 2 shows that the tool predicts a low stability parameter, hence
suggesting that a smaller stone size could have been used.
Table 2. Comparison of selected wind farm sites with Opti-Pile results.

Site
Horns Rev
Scroby Sands

Type
Static
Dynamic

D50 [mm]
400
150

Stab2,3
0.39
0.62

Difference
-15%
+35%

The scour protection at Scroby Sands is a dynamic type11 i.e. a mixed material of pebbles and gravel was placed in
the naturally developed scour holes around the foundations after scour had occurred. The material was mixed with
gravel to provide a geotechnical filter towards the natural seabed of sand. The natural scour holes were allowed to
develop for a few tidal cycles prior to placing the protection.
The Opti-Pile tool indicates a stability parameter too high for the scour protection to be stable, thus suggesting that
larger stones be applied if a stable design is intended. However, it must be noted that the scour protection is designed
to be dynamically stable and not maintenance free. The designer of the scour protection has estimated that a
maximum scour depth of 2.0 m in the protection can be expected after a 50-years storm.
The scour depths predicted by the Opti-Pile Design Tool have also been compared to measured scour depths around a
monopile at location N7 in the southern North Sea12. The pile diameter was 6.0m at a depth of between 5.2m (LAT)
and 11m (HAT). The depth-averaged tidal velocity ranged between 0.25ms-1 and 0.75ms-1. The maximum waves
experienced since installation had Hs = 4.6m, Tp = 16.1s. The seabed consisted of medium dense sand, which for the
Opti-Pile predictions we assumed to have d50 = 0.2mm and d84 = 0.4mm. 4.73 years after the monopile was installed
the mean and maximum surveyed scour depths were 4.8m and 6.3m respectively. The Opti-Pile Design Tool
calculated scour depths between 4.8m and 7.5m for current-induced scour, which encompasses the range of measured
values. The range of observed and predicted values is represented by the symbols and line in Fig. 6. The predictions
lie between exact and 18% over-prediction. When waves are included the predicted scour depths are reduced, but
there is insufficient data to decide on the most appropriate wave conditions to use.

Conclusions
The Opti-Pile Design Tool has been developed to assist in the design of monopile foundations for offshore wind
turbines. The Opti-Pile Design Tool predicts the following quantities:

Scour hole depth and width;

Size of static and dynamic rock armour;

Extent and volume of rock armour;

An allowance for bed level movement.


The Opti-Pile Design Tool is aimed at monopiles in European shelf seas, such as the North Sea, although many of the
principles are applicable elsewhere also. The Opti-Pile Design Tool was calibrated using existing data and a new set
of physical model tests. It was then tested using data collected for the Horns Rev and Scroby Sands offshore wind
farms and a monopile in the N7 sector of the North Sea. The design tool performed well in all cases. Further
confidence in the design tool can be obtained by comparison with the results of monitoring from existing
installations.
It is important to note that the quantities calculated in the Opti-Pile Design Tool are based directly on the values of
the coefficients derived from the tests and hence are best conservative estimates for the specific conditions tested. No
factor of safety is included in these values. It is the responsibility of the designer to decide on the factor of safety to
be applied.
The calibrated methods described in this paper are considered to provide a robust indicator of scour response and
scour protection behaviour at the specific foundations, and for the specific range of conditions, tested. For other
structures or conditions outside the range tested the spreadsheet can give a first indicator of values, but will require
calibration with physical model testing to refine the values. The Opti-Pile Design Tool does not explicitly address the

13

time-development of the scour hole over a long period of time with time series of currents and waves. An interesting
future development will be to adapt existing methods to produce a corresponding time series of scour depths.
The following new knowledge was also gained from the physical model tests:

The maximum average scour depth around the monopiles without a scour protection present in a current only
situation was found to be 1.75P;

Both static and dynamic scour protection function satisfactorily to prevent erosion around the monopiles,
situated in a sandy environment;

When applying the dynamic scour protection concept, significantly smaller rock can be applied when compared
to the static scour protection concept;

Spacings of 33P and 56P were not large enough to prevent any influence from the upstream pile (turbulence,
vortices etc.) on the developing scour depth of the downstream pile. From literature it was known that a spacing
of 20P leads to a scour depth on the downstream pile of 0.8 times the scour depth on the upstream pile, the tests
for the Q7 project show that this trend continues for spacings up to (at least) 56P.

Acknowledgement
The results presented in this paper result from the Opti-Pile project, partly funded by the European Commission
under the EUFP5 RTD Programme as contract NNE5/2001/245. Partners in the Opti-Pile project are E-Connection
Project BV, Vestas Wind Systems A/S (Denmark) and Germanischer Lloyd Windenergie GmbH (Germany).

References
1.

Byrne, B.W. and Houlsby, G.T., 2003. Foundations for Offshore Wind Turbines, Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc., Vol.
361, December, pp 2909-2930.

2.

Sumer, B.M. and Fredse, J., 2002. The Mechanics of Scour in the Marine Environment, World Scientific,
Singapore.

3.

Hoffmans, G.J.C.M. and Verheij, H.J., 1997. Scour Manual, Balkema, Netherlands.

4.

Whitehouse, R.J.S., 1998. Scour at Marine Structures. Thomas Telford. 216 pp. ISBN 07277 26552.

5.

CIRIA/CUR, 1991. Manual on the use of rock in coastal and shoreline engineering. CIRIA Special
Publication 83/CUR Report 154.

6.

Schierek, G.J., 2001.


Netherlands.

7.

Soulsby, R.L., 1997. Dynamics of Marine Sands, pub. Thomas Telford, London, ISBN 0 7277 2584 X.

8.

Soulsby, R.L. and Smallman, J.V., 1986. A direct method of calculating bottom orbital velocity under waves.
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9.

Sumer, B.M. and Fredse, J., 2001. Scour around pile in combined waves and current. J. Hydraulic Eng.,
Vol. 127, No. 5, 403-411.

Introduction to bed, bank and shore protection, Delft University Press, Delft,

10. Simons, R. R., Myrhaug, D., Thais, L., Chapalain, G., Holmedal, L-E. and MacIver, R., 2000. Bed friction in
combined wave-current flows. Coastal Engineering 2000, Sydney, ASCE, pp 216 226.
11. LIC Engineering, 2001. Basic design Scroby Sands Phase 2. Report R0144-03. Prepared by LIC Engineering
for Powergen Renewables and Vestas Wind Systems A/S.
12. Rudolph, D., Bos, K.J., Luijendijk, A.P., Rietema, K. and Out, J.M.M., 2004. Scour around offshore structures
analysis of field measurements. In 2nd International Conference on Scour and Erosion, Chiew, Lim and
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