Engineering Dynamics – Underwater Noise Assessments

Manage and mititage the risks to the environment and wildlife by reducing underwater noise during the construciton of your next offshore wind project

Overview

We understand that the construction and operation of offshore wind turbines creates significant underwater noise, which needs to be managed and monitored during the construction and operation phases to minimise risk to underwater wildlife and the environment.

Our Risk Management Consultants can help you by accurately predicting noise levels in absolute terms, based on technical input at specific sites rather than empirical data. Our solution combines two, well-established techniques which gives our clients the confidence and assurance that they are meeting regulatory requirements and protecting the environment.

  1. Wave equation analysis for piles (WEAP), a popular geotechnical tool
  2. Vibro-acoustic Finite Element (FE) modelling.

WEAP offers two important uses for our clients as it represents both the complex pile-soil interaction and the multi-component hammer systems common to offshore piling, so we can calculate the dynamics or stress wave caused.

Our proposed method relies on WEAP for estimating the related energy dissipation and the loading to the pile head. By inputting these estimations into a relatively simple FE model, we can predict noise levels ahead of installation.

In an age of sustainable energy, we can and should reduce underwater noise using specialist acoustic assessment and uniting expertise across the disciplines of acoustics, engineering, environmental science and biology. Both industry and shipping are likely to face increased regulation in this area in the future. Addressing this issue should also encourage the development of more environmentally friendly technologies. As the world demands increasing levels of low-carbon energy, the opportunities for enterprising engineers are below the water.

Modelling and managing underwater noise

Computer modelling of underwater noise from offshore wind is a complex, multidisciplinary effort with no off-the-shelf solution. Modelling and managing underwater noise comprises four main steps, requiring multidisciplinary capabilities and reliable prediction tools.

  1. Data from previous geophysical surveys
  2. The calculated sound field is combined with population distributions of noise sensitive species
  3. Considering the animal behavioural response to the noise then enables an assessment of the risk of impact.
  4. Noise mitigation techniques and strategies are explored.
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