Source: Steve Wilhelm, Puget Sound Business Journal, December 30, 2011.
Machines to drive foundations for offshore wind power platforms could become a new market for a small Kent pile driving company.
American Piledriving Equipment Inc. has signed a $3 million contract to supply “vibratory hammer” equipment to drive 30 piles in the North Sea off the coast of Germany, each of them 22 feet in diameter, to support some of the largest wind turbines ever built.
The German government is building the wind power arrays to move away from dependence on nuclear power. But contractors were struggling with how to drive pilings for the large foundations required without damaging sea life with the sonic booms of normal pile driving operations.
Driving the pilings without killing fish was a contractual requirement for the German job, said American Piledriving Equipment Inc. President John White.
White had been trying to convince Europeans that his “vibratory drilling” machines could do the job, but had no success until American Piledriving machines started rapidly sinking even larger pilings, 130 of them, for a new bridge connecting Hong Kong and Macau, China. They finished that job in September.
“I see it as a major segment I’ve wanted to get into,” he said about the offshore wind contract.
White added that he expects more business in the arena of driving piles for wind generators, as a combination of climate change and last year’s earthquake-caused reactor disaster in Japan draw governments to look for alternative power.
American Piledriving Equipment, which gets a lot of branding mileage off the “APE” acronym based on its name, is calling the new machine the “Super Quad Kong.” It will link four of the company’s largest machines to drive the 197-foot steel cylindrical pilings, each weighing 700 tons, into the ocean floor in 50 minutes.
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