Geotechnics of wind energy – onshore and offshore

David Annan and Dr. Ryan D Beemer

About the speakers

David Annan Principal Geotechnical Engineer, WSP Golder

“Onshore Wind Farms – Geotechnical investigation in Australia”


The energy market in Australia is in a state of flux and significant investment is on the horizon in both production and transmission. Over the last 10 years there has been technical advances which have resulted in onshore wind farms becoming more viable. These technological advances include an increase in the size of the turbines and improvements in the associated infrastructure required to construct and operate a wind farm. From a geotechnical perspective there are several considerations extending from the design of the wind turbine generator foundations to access road and hardstand construction and construction materials sourcing. Each site presents its own specific challenges and as geotechnical engineers, one of our primary roles is to assess these challenges and come up with appropriate geotechnical solutions. This presentation aims to provide an overview of the current state of practice regarding site geotechnical investigation requirements for a typical wind farm and some learnings from previous projects including foundation design, earthworks and access track/hardstand pavement design and construction.


David Annan is a Principal Geotechnical Engineer at WSP Golder, with extensive experience in the performance and management of geotechnical site investigations, construction phase assessments and earthworks. He has worked almost exclusively in the design and construction of power infrastructure projects, including over 30 windfarm projects as well as several substation and transmission line projects.

Dr. Ryan D Beemer Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

“Offshore wind on the United States East Coast and Problematic Calcareous Sediments”


The large variation in latitude along the East Coast of the United State results in a similar variation in soil types and properties that the offshore wind industry will need to design for. Problematic glauconitic soils are known to exist in Northeast and calcareous soils can be found offshore in the South. Both of these soils have low grain strengths and are known to be problematic as a result of particle crushing. Calcareous sediments are biogenic in nature, they largely consist of the skeletal remains of calcium carbonate bearing marine micro- and macro-organisms (foraminifera, coccolithophore, coral, mollusks, etc.) and their bioclasts. They have traditionally been problematic for offshore oil and natural gas development offshore of Australia. However, with the recent lease of the Carolina Long Bay by Bureau of Ocean Energy Management it appears that the first offshore wind development to be installed in calcareous sediment could be in the United States. This presentation will provide an overview of offshore wind development on the East Coast of the United States, present research into the mechanics and classification of calcareous sediments, and discuss the potential implications of calcareous sediments on offshore wind developments.


Dr. Ryan D Beemer is an Assistant Professor in geotechnical engineering at the UMassD. Prior, he worked at the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems in the Oceans Graduate School at the University of Western Australia. His research interests include the mechanics of problematic calcareous and glauconitic sediments, offshore foundations and anchoring systems, and deployable geosystems.

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