Project background

ScottishPower Renewables is a major UK renewable energy provider and part of the Iberdrola Group, one of the world’s largest utilities companies and the leading wind energy producer. RSK Environment Ltd (RSK) has been appointed as one of three consultants on a geotechnical framework contract since 2022.

RSK was selected because of the comprehensive range of services that it can offer to ScottishPower Renewables through various group companies, as well as its health and safety performance and technical capabilities. RSK also has a track record of successfully delivering on various other frameworks for ScottishPower group companies. Its ability to offer pile load testing services through the use of in-house resources via CAN Renewables enabled RSK to stand out among many of its competitors in this market. ScottishPower Renewables has an ambitious target of installing multiple solar farm developments throughout the UK to assist with easing the ongoing energy crisis.

RSK involvement

RSK was engaged under a framework contract by ScottishPower Renewables, a major renewable energy provider, to undertake a geoenvironmental assessment of a proposed 30 mV solar PV site in Buckinghamshire. The geoenvironmental survey included several phases such as desk studies, intrusive investigations, in situ and ex situ geotechnical testing, electrical and thermal resistivity surveys, topographic surveys, dynamic cone penetration testing, soakaway testing and factual and interpretive reporting. In addition, RSK and CAN Renewables worked closely together to undertake pile load testing to help the client design the foundations for the solar farm.

For each of the proposed sites, ScottishPower Renewables required a geoenvironmental assessment to provide site-specific data to inform the design and construction phase of the projects. The solar PV projects often had challenging timescales. RSK’s geographic coverage, technical ability and availability of in-house resources enabled it to react quickly to tender requests and to meet the ambitious programme of works. RSK Geosciences took the lead on project delivery but was closely supported by specialist RSK Group teams such as SafeGround, Geophysics, contracting (site investigation services) and geotechnical and environmental laboratories, as well as RSK Group company CAN Renewables (pile load testing). The original programme of works was estimated to take eight months to complete; however, ScottishPower Renewables requested delivery within five months of appointment.

RSK devised a programme and scope of works to match ScottishPower Renewables’ objectives and delivery deadlines and managed to reduce the overall programme by

  • proactively engaging with the client to obtain rapid authorisations and provision of purchase orders
  • expediting certain aspects of the works through good planning and close coordination with key stakeholders (internal and external) to minimise mobilisation times and to efficiently deliver aspects of the project
  • utilising electronic data capture to enable rapid data transfer and continuous review and interpretation during site investigation phases
  • mobilising multiple resources to site
  • when possible, undertaking several activities such as design of subsequent ground investigation phases in parallel with other activities.

These measures enabled RSK to reduce the overall programme to match ScottishPower Renewables’ requirements and to deliver the works within five months.

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