Is This a Wind Turbine or a Gigantic Bath Toy?

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How do you set up a 120-meter-tall, 2.3 MW floating wind turbine 12 miles 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 specialized 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 12 miles 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 100-meter long, 30-meter wide barge. It's then towed out to the site while lying nearly horizontal—minimizing its draft and allowing the barge to be towed at a brisk 8 knots. Once at the site, a series of 29 ballast tanks inside the barge begin sequentially filling with seawater—17,000 cubic meters 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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