Design And Testing Of Deep Foundations For Wind Turbines In Western Alaska

Dilley, Lorie M.
Organization: Deep Foundations Institute
Pages: 9
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2010
Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC), an electric utility cooperative providing power to 51 Alaska villages, has made a concerted effort to install wind turbines in the villages they serve in an effort to mitigate the growing costs of electrical power generation. The subsurface soils in several of these villages consist of sands and silts with ground temperatures of between 30°F and 32°F. The presence of warm, degrading permafrost in three of the villages has required innovative foundation designs, including the use of helical piers and piles to support steel and concrete wind turbine foundations. The design of the deep foundations had to account for the effects of degrading permafrost likely resulting from observed climate change patterns. Uplift forces imposed on the foundations were approximately 100 kips per pile. Uplift pile load testing was conducted on the installed piers and piles in order to determine the actual working load that each pier or pile could sustain. In addition, pile driving analyzer testing was conducted on several piles installed in the permafrost and compared to pile load tests. Results indicated that the installed piers and piles achieved the necessary capacity with sufficient factors of safety. Thermosyphons were installed near the foundations in order to limit the effects of climate change on the permafrost. The two to four wind turbines in each of the three villages are currently operational. Refinement of the design based on the pile testing from the first village to the third has decreased the cost of the tower foundations and improved our understanding of designing for warm, degrading permafrost.
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