Crane system installs giant offshore wind turbines

The Norwegian company developed a system including an aluminum frame, crane and a number of other tools that help reduce the cost of installing offshore wind turbines by 50%.

One reason offshore wind power is expensive is that installing turbines requires massive crane ships. To fix this, Norwegian company Windspider developed an ultra-light crane system that promises to halve costs, New Atlas reported on March 26. The company has just received significant funding to develop and manufacture the first full-size system.

The new generation of offshore wind turbines is increasing in size to astonishing levels. They consist of giant pillars, even taller than some skyscrapers, on top of which is a generator box with 3 blades long enough to sweep more than 310 m in diameter. Lifting the giant generators and propellers to the top of the pylon is no small challenge, not to mention the job is done from a crane ship bobbing on the waves. Such large crane ships can cost millions of dollars every day.

WindSpider’s solution was to build an aluminum exoskeleton around the pillar. This frame consists of cage-like sections, is relatively light and easy to handle, and does not require modifications to the turbine design like the climbing crane method.

Atop the frame is a heavy-duty crane, adjustable to handle loads of over 1,500 tons. This crane is designed to hug from both sides, the space in the middle is large enough to lift the generator box and place it in position on top of the turbine’s pillar.

Once the generator box installation is complete, WindSpider’s “blade tool” will clip each turbine blade from the deck to pull it up. This tool latches onto the side of the chassis and carries the rotor up and down, rotating into the correct position to attach to the alternator box. WindSpider designed this tool because lifting giant blades with a crane in windy areas can be difficult. In addition, WindSpider also designed another tool, also attached to the side of the frame to move up and down, to help remove and replace parts of the generator box that can weigh up to 400 tons during maintenance.

WindSpider believes the new system can operate at altitudes of more than 200 m. The company also said that the system will help reduce installation and maintenance costs for fixed turbines as well as floating turbines by more than 50%.

By Editor

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