Is This A Wind Turbine Or A Gigantic Bath Toy?

How do you set up a 120m, 2.3MW floating wind turbine 20km offshore? And once there how do you stand it up? One Norwegian company has devised a simple and elegant solution.

It's called the WindFlip: a specialised barge designed to transport the next generation of floating wind turbines. These turbines are huge, generating anywhere from 2.5-6MW of power apiece. They're so large, they usually require partial assembly on site -- not an easy task in the rough seas offshore. But the WindFlip's ingenious design will allow turbines to be built wholly on land and then transported as a single unit.

The turbine is loaded as a single unit onto a special 100m-long, 30m-wide barge. It's then towed out to the site while lying nearly horizontal -- minimising its draft and allowing the barge to be towed at a brisk eight knots. Once at the site, a series of 29 ballast tanks inside the barge begin sequentially filling with seawater -- 17000m3 of seawater. This slowly and steadily tilts both the barge and the turbine until they're pointing straight up. The barge then releases the turbine, steps away and lies back down by injecting compressed air into its ballast tanks.

The WindFlip is still a concept, but its parent company is working with Norway's Statoil, makers of the Hywind floating turbine, to specialize it for use with the Hywind system. If the Hywind ever does reach market expect to see it dragged offshore on a WindFlip. [Windflip - Cleantechnica - Wikipedia]

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