The award recognised the work Heerema Marine Contractors and Heerema Fabrication Group have been doing with the University of Dundee's School of Science and Engineering on technology that could significantly reduce or eliminate underwater noise pollution.
The impact of noise pollution on marine life is two-fold; there are concerns about direct hearing damage in animals (temporary or permanent) alongside disruption to their communication and navigation signals, which in turn can affect migratory patterns. All of these issues can cause stress to marine life, and with difficulties gathering data, the long-term impact is unknown.
During the installation of wind turbines, wind farm substations, converter platforms, and traditional oil and gas facilities, pile-driving operations generate considerable noise. Globally, several countries are challenging noise pollution by introducing underwater noise restrictions; however, for Heerema, the ambition is to go further than to be compliant and to create silent foundations. The development of alternative pile foundations that could be installed without producing significant underwater noise is currently ongoing.
The foundation concept under development is called push-in piles, with a design that replaces a traditional single open tubular pile with a cluster of four smaller diameter open tubular piles. This design can eliminate noise pollution as it requires no pile-driving or hammering - instead, after some strokes, each of the piles is pushed into the soil with two or three providing the uplift resistance required to push in the fourth. The concept might sound complicated, but it uses a similar principle to onshore installations of sheet pile walls.
We're delighted to see that our pioneering project on reducing noise pollution in piling operations has been recognised
"We're delighted to see that our pioneering project on reducing noise pollution in piling operations has been recognised with an IMCA Award for Environmental Sustainability. We'd also like to take this opportunity to thank our project partners at the University of Dundee - all parties can be proud of this achievement," Marius Ottolini, strategy advisor, Heerema Marine Contractors, said. "Noise pollution is a ‘new' area for sustainability in many respects, and this award is a recognition of its growing significance. We're looking forward to continuing to work on this technology."
Commenting on the IMCA award winners, CEO Iain Grainger said: "It was a true honour to be able to present the IMCA Awards. A huge congratulations to the worthy winners, as well as the highly commended entry, these are all projects which can inspire our industry to go further to improve safety and sustainability."
Got a story? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org