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December 17, 2009

WindFlip: Fresh spin on wind turbine installation

A group of students at NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) in Trondheim, has come up with an innovative concept for lowering the cost of transporting and installing offshore wind turbines.

WindFlip is a 197 m x 36 m vessel with a flipping capability comparable to that pioneered by the RV FLIP (FLoating INstrument Panel) operated by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. That ship flips backward, so that only the front 17 m remains above water, with the remainder of its 108 m submerged, providing a stable underwater platform to study wave height, acoustic signals, water temperature and density, and to gather meteorological data. It's been doing this since it was delivered by Gunderson in 1962.

But flippabilty is about all that WindFlip and the non self-propelled FLIP have in common.

WindFlip is designed to transport two of Norsk Hydro's Hywind offshore wind turbines at a time. They are loaded on to the vessel at the construction site by crane. It then proceeds to the deployment site at a service speed of 15 knots, propelled by four gas turines. Once at the discharge site, the stern of the vessel is ballasted down until is vertical and the wind turbines are released. Final positioning of the turbines is performed by a tugboat.

The YouTube video above shows a towed-barge variation on the concept. The video below, from the WindFlip.com website, shows the self-propelled ship.

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