FBG Sensors and Signal-Based Detection Method for Failure Detection of an Offshore Wind Turbine Grouted Connection

Müller, Nathalie (Fraunhofer-Institut für Windenergie und Energiesystemtechnik (IWES)) | Kraemer, Peter (University of Siegen) | Leduc, Dominique (Research Institute of Civil Engineering and Mechanics (GeM)) | Schoefs, Franck (Research Institute of Civil Engineering and Mechanics (GeM))


A fatigue test has been conducted on a large-scale offshore wind turbine grouted connection specimen at the Leibniz University of Hannover. For detecting damages in the grouted joint, a structural health monitoring (SHM) system based on fiber optic sensor-type fiber Bragg grating (FBG) has been implemented. By extracting the features of the FBG signal responses using the Wigner–Ville distribution (WVD) and one of its marginal properties, the energy spectral density (ESD), it is possible to detect the occurrence and the global severity of the damage. Some information about the local severity of the damage has also been obtained.


The grouted connection consists of the high-performance grout-filled space between the two structural steel components of respectively the sleeve and the pile of offshore wind turbines (OWTs). For monopile OWTs, it is located around the water level between the transition piece and the pile, whereas for jacket and tripod OWTs, it is located just above the seabed, between substructure and foundation pile. While grouted joints for monopiles are exposed to bending moments, grouted joints for latticed substructures (tripods and jackets) are exposed to predominant axial loadings and low torsional moments (Schaumann and Böker, 2005; Schaumann, Lochte-Holtgreven et al., 2010). It is a critical structural part of OWTs. In 2009–2010, engineers reported grouted connection failures causing slight and progressive settlement of turbines. The problem affected approximately 600 of the 988 monopile wind turbines in the North Sea, requiring further investigations concerning the design of the grouted connection (Rajgor, 2012). Since then, two grouted connection designs reducing the axial forces in this area have been recommended by Det Norske Veritas (2014): using a conical grouted connection (first design) or a tubular connection with shear keys (second design).