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Optimize turbine (-blade) installation

Single blade or complete rotor installation is currently a governing factor in the workability of wind turbine installation. This is mainly due to the maximum allowable wind speed for the installation procedure.

The objective of this project is to develop and test a prototype of a technically and commercially feasible solution for installing turbine parts, specifically but not limited to turbine blades, and to service offshore wind farms in significantly higher wind speeds reflecting the challenges imposed by the current and future offshore wind farms.

Specifically the project aims to develop a technically and commercially feasible solution for installing turbine blades according the following design parameters/aspects:

  • Suitable for wind speeds up to 15m/s at hub height;
  • Applicable to single blade installation method;
  • Suitable to install blades under an angle with the horizon, to avoid full rotor installation for those turbines for which the hub cannot be rotated during blade installation;
  • In the event the existing crane is used, the crane has to be available for other construction purposes, for example the installation of the wind turbine tower or nacelle. Therefore, additional equipment or modifications to the crane should have a minimum effect on the crane curve and available clearances etc. during lifting;

The method and combination crane-tool must be able to pick up the blade from the existing blade racks on the installation jack-up; This in turn will lead to the development of a generic tool to accommodate current and expected installation capacity and turbines in the market with minimum modifications and accompanying the different blades and cranes.

In order to achieve these objectives the following approach was adopted:

  • WP1: Concept design Generate and engineered concept that shows feasibility of the defined objectives.
  • WP2: Basic design/detailed design Create a detailed design up to a level of detail suitable for the manufacturer to make his shop drawings and facilitate the construction of the prototype
  •  WP3: Build a prototype Constructing a (scaled) prototype for testing purposes at an on- or offshore location
  • WP4: Testing of prototype Validation of design parameters and marketable proof of solution to the market.
  • WP5: Dissemination

At the basic design GO/NO GO decision gate, due to lack of a(n) (offshore) test facility and/or launching costumer, it unfortunately had to be concluded that this project could not be continued given the remaining timeframe of the FLOW program in combination with the required time for the detailed, building and test phases.

The following results have been obtained:

  • The concept structural/mechanical design and control mechanism of the tool has been finalized and reported.
  • A feasibility study of the concept design through simulation of installation of the blades in a 3D drawing program coupled to a control algorithm has been completed to acquire proof of concept.
  • The basic design in a first design cycle with a focus on the structural design (strength integrity) and selection of mechanical components has been reported.
  • The basic design and specification of the mechanical components for two configurations of the tool have been reported.
  • A crane capacity check has been performed during the study and separately by a crane manufacturer.

The project results show a significant potential in the acceleration to the 4500 MW target in 2023 because of the increase in allowable operational weather window for the installation of turbine components. Due to the increased overall up time the overall cycle time will decrease, accelerating the activities needed to accomplish the before mentioned target of 4500 MW.

Also the increased allowable wind speed for lifting operations results in a reduction of (relatively expensive) offshore hours during maintenance that requires removal of the blades (for example nacelle replacement). These cost reductions outweigh the higher CAPEX of the tool by far in comparison to the commonly used tools.

Cost & risk reduction
Due to increased controllability of the turbine components during the installation process when using the developed installation tool also the risks for installation related damage will decrease. Increased allowable wind speed will allow for less waiting on weather and will enable more cost efficient usage of the installation spread.

The above mentioned acceleration will lead to an overall cycle time decrease which in turn will lead to a Levelled cost of Energy reduction according the FLOW “werksessie kostenmodel FLOW 10 okt 2014”.

The optimized deck lay-out will allow for fewer trips from the base port to the wind farm location compared to full rotor installation. Fewer trips will increase, and therefore accelerate, the installation process.

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