cod and off-shore wind farm engineering

The complexity of engineering systems is thrilling and exciting and the factors that need to be accounted for during design. Few systems we engineer within the natural and built environment can be realized in isolation; most of them need to be designed accounting for many different influences in their environment.

The design and engineering of off-shore wind farms is a great example of this complexity. On the surface it seems rather simple to design and engineer off-shore wind parks, at least, in comparision to urban systems. After all, wind-parks are operated in isolation. Weather and water are influencing the structure, but though chaotic these processes are well understood from an engineering perspective. It seems as if little integration with other systems need to be considered.

Looking closer, however, many intriguing processes come to the fore that influence the design. For example, by now, it is well understood that the maintenance of off-shore wind farms needs to be accounted for and integrated already during the early design activities. One of our previous studies, for example, looks at health and safety conditions of these maintenance activities and the problems of reaching turbines in harsh weather conditions.

How to best design and engineer off-shore wind farms, however, does not stop here. For example, the design and choice of different possibilities for foundations influences how the marine ecosystem can develop and thrive within the parks. An interesting study of the Th√ľnen institute, for example, showed that cod, a species of fish whose population collapse in recent years, can thrive in between the foundations of the off-shore wind-farms. Of course, how the wind farm foundation is designed can influence the development of the marine ecosystem that can thrive within the park.

Knowing the surroundings before renovating

To design, plan, and execute a building renovation, engineers need to not only understand the building itself, but also need to know quite some about the building’s environment. Knowledge about the environment is already required in the early stages of building condition assessment. For example, to plan drone flights round a building it is important to know whether there are trees of other objects around that would inhibit the drone flight. To evaluate different design options later on in the process with respect to the energy and occupant related performance knowledge about the local weather conditions or objects that might provide shading is required. During the execution one of the most important aspects that need to be accounted for is accessibility.

The above are only a couple of examples of the required knowledge. On our projects, more often than not, this knowledge is not systematically managed using our existing information models. To overcome this problem, in her research within the European BIM-Speed project Maryam Daneshfar explored the knowledge that engineers require to for renovating buildings. She formalized her findings in an ontology that is freely available here and discussed in a preliminary conference paper. I am sure publications about the ontology will soon follow in scientific journals. I will keep you posted.