Wind energy

As the first offshore wind farm will soon launch off the Normandy and Brittany coasts, we have to make our contribution !

Wind power is an energy source that depends on the phenomenon caused by the difference in temperature and atmospheric pressure zones generated by the action of the sun on the Earth. Wind turbines, or windmills, are used to produce electricity from this energy.

A wind turbine employs both mechanical and electrical principles. It typically consists of three blades carried by a rotor and installed on top of a vertical pole. The assembly is fixed by a structure that incorporates a generator. The blades transform wind energy into mechanical energy. The wind turns the blades at the rate of between 10 and 25 revolutions per minute, depending on their size. The generator then converts the mechanical energy into electrical energy.

Wind turbines can be on land or at sea, where they are known as offshore wind farms. A wind farm generally has between 3 and 10 wind turbines that are built at least 200 meters apart. The electricity produced is routed by cable to the grid. Offshore wind farms are usually about 10 km from the coast, at depths of between 25 and 30 meters. They are connected to the on-shore grid by an underwater cable.

In this particular setting, Sofren’s civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and project management expertise is used on both offshore and onshore wind farm projects. Sofren engineering teams work on the different parts of wind turbines: the mast, propeller, rotor, nacelle containing the alternator which generates the electricity, the structure anchoring the wind turbine to the ground, the electricity cables that transport the electricity produced. Sofren’s sphere of action concerns engineering, especially during the pre-feasibility studies, to ensure that the site under consideration is suitable for the project (calculation of the regularity and strength of the winds, study of the connections to high or medium voltage grids, environmental studies, etc.). It also covers more advanced projects: essential structure and stress calculations for the design of blades, masts, and anchoring structures; offshore installations require further studies on marine currents and anchoring the structure in the water.

Sofren stands out by:

  • Its studies on the hydraulic, environmental, and hydro-sedimentary impacts of wind farms, marine and navigation risks, and hydrodynamics in the design of submerged foundations and structures.
  • Its design of submarine cables and their landing stations.
  • Its on-site expertise, in particular in installing and commissioning the units; Sofren is able to deploy teams of experts (structural, mechanical, electrical, etc.) as well as project management teams that monitor and coordinate the installation, as well as carrying out testing and commissioning work.