Offshore Wind News Insights

GDG: Providing innovation for the offshore wind sector

Founded in 2011, Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions (GDG) is a civil engineering consultancy with specialist geotechnical skills. GDG provides innovative solutions to clients around the world, principally in the offshore wind sector. The firm’s geotechnical engineers provide a range of services to both the domestic and international markets in areas spanning concept design, detailed design, in-situ monitoring and general geotechnical advice.

GDG is currently working on offshore wind projects in Ireland, the UK, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines and is targeting the US for further growth. The company is ideally positioned to take advantage of the rapid growth in the Irish offshore wind sector which is anticipated in the coming decade as a result of regulatory changes and the implementation of the National Climate Action Plan.

GDG began life in industry-funded research into the technical problems faced by offshore wind projects being carried out in University College Dublin (UCD). This grew into a consultancy business for the lead researchers and eventually to the establishment of GDG.

In 2012 GDG decided to expand its business internationally; this led to the firm winning contracts in countries as diverse as Canada, Myanmar, Tunisia, Germany, and Belgium.

The net result was a portfolio of very high-quality reference projects which provided the base on which to expand the engineering team to enable the company to take on more work. By 2014, the Irish economy was in full recovery and GDG began to win contracts in its home market as well. Today, GDG has 90 staff, with plans to increase that to 100 in the near future. The company’s office network has grown to span Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Edinburgh, London and Bath, with plans in place to expand into Japan, South Korea and the East Coast of the US once Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted.

The company’s work profile has changed over the years. “We do a lot of work in the heavy engineering and onshore renewables sectors, but 65% of our work is offshore wind,” says Doherty. “We are now working on projects in Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan and we are looking at opportunities in other markets like the US.”

The services provided are very high-end technical solutions, including geotechnical data interpretation, site identification, site assessment, site investigations, cable route design, seabed stability assessments, and anchor design for tethered structures. The aim is to stay with projects from design through to construction and commissioning.

As the Irish offshore wind market is gaining momentum, GDG is keen to assist in the selection of the most suitable sites for development as well as the engineering of those sites in the most efficient and innovative manner.

A key driver behind that momentum is the Marine Planning and Development Management (MPDM) Bill. The previous maritime consent regime was complex and unwieldy and held back offshore wind development in Ireland. The MPDM seeks to establish in law a new regime for the maritime area which will replace existing state development consent regime. It is intended to streamline procedure on the basis of a single consent principle.

It is believed that the MPDM will greatly improve conditions for offshore wind development. A number of projects are in the process of transitioning from the old Foreshore Act to the new regime. They will get special treatment, and be able to move ahead quite quickly, and there will be a steady stream of projects for the next 25 years.

As the only indigenous Irish consultancy with a decade of experience on offshore wind projects worldwide, GDG is well placed to prosper in that market. The company also has extensive experience of dealing with various Irish stakeholders such as the ports, coastal communities, the fishing community and statutory bodies.

The company’s largest markets will remain overseas. “For the next decade, our biggest markets will probably still be in Asia in countries like South Korea, Vietnam, Japan, and the Philippines. The US will also be a major market for us,” says Doherty.

GDG has benefited from Enterprise Ireland support over the years. “That has been very helpful in allowing us to remain at the cutting edge of what we do. We have received a lot of support from the Agile Innovation Fund for our ongoing research and development work,” he concludes.

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