The prototype of an innovative self-installing offshore wind turbine with a telescopic tower has been installed in the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain.
A 5-MW turbine at the Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (known as PLOCAN), is mounted on the self-installing turbine, the telescopic tower of which will be raised into position for testing to commence.
The self-installing turbine/foundation concept was designed and developed under the Elican project, which received funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme.
The ‘Elisa’ self-installing turbine concept was developed by a consortium led by Esteyco Energia. The foundation was manufactured in a drydock at the Port of Arinaga.
The technology allows the turbine tower and the wind turbine to be fully assembled in port, eliminating the need for large vessels or cranes during installation, reducing the risks associated with assembly work at sea. It is claimed that the concept could cut installation costs by 30-40% compared to existing solutions.
One important advantage of the telescopic tower is that, when lowered, it lowers the overall unit’s centre of gravity, which enhances the platform’s stability. Being able to build the structure ashore reduces the risks inherent in assembly at sea. Once tugged into position, the platform is ballasted to the seabed. When secure, the tower is raised to its final position, with each new level of the tower lifted sequentially until it is fully built.
Vessel-free installation not only reduces costs, said the consortium, it also provides a way to support the trend towards larger offshore wind turbines, which is an important part of reducing the cost of offshore wind energy.
Heavy-lift company ALE played a key role in the project and was responsible for lifting sections of the offshore installation and for a transportation, installation and maintenance platform.
The prototype offshore installation uses a Siemens-Gamesa 5-MW wind turbine. The tower consists of three sections, the upper two of which were lifted into place by ALE, which controlled the lifting equipment using offshore manoeuvres via wifi from a nearby vessel.
The turbine is expected to start producing power in Q4 2018.