SENSE PelaStar: A floating wind game changer?

Written by Marine Log Staff
SENSEWind system

SENSE (Self-Erecting Nacelle and Service) concept eliminates the need for special cranes and allows the full turbine Rotor Nacelle Assembly (RNA) to be installed and serviced directly on site. [Image: SENSEWind]

The U.K’s Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has granted GBP10 million (about $13.5 million) to technology partners SENSEWind, Glosten, and Subsea Micropiles, and six delivery partners to design and construct a SENSE PelaStar floating wind turbine demonstrator off the coast of Scotland.

The SENSE (Self-Erecting Nacelle and Service) concept aims to upend the conventional approach to wind turbine installation and operation and maintenance. It eliminates the need for special cranes and allows the full turbine Rotor Nacelle Assembly (RNA) to be installed and serviced directly on site.

It is particularly suited to deep water floating projects.

“The SENSEWind system is designed to scale at the speed of turbine innovation. Special cranes and crane vessels will be prohibitively expensive as we attempt to keep levelised cost of energy on a downward trajectory both onshore and offshore,” said Patrick Geraets, CEO of SENSEWind. “This system solves the looming problem of installing and servicing massive, and increasingly remote, wind turbines. The larger and further from shore the turbines get, the more valuable the SENSE system becomes.”

The SENSE PelaStar project will feature SENSEWind’s turbine self-installation system, the PelaStar tension leg platform (TLP) floating foundation from Glosten, and Subsea Micropile anchors. The SENSE concept will be put through its paces on a fully operational 2 MW floating wind turbine with installation set for late 2023.

“We are thankful for the vision of BEIS and our project partners to seize the opportunity to demonstrate the PelaStar TLP, a deep-water foundation that minimizes steel weight, turbine motions, seabed disruption, and accessibility limits, as a solution well suited for development of commercial deep water wind projects in the U.K. and beyond. With this project, we can prove that the SENSEWind system will enable the quayside assembly and installation of PelaStar floating wind turbines with readily available marine equipment, avoiding the need to use specialized installation vessels and floating-to-floating tower and RNA offshore assembly,” said Ben Ackers, vice president of Glosten and managing director of PelaStar LLC.

“The Achilles heel of floating wind is the ‘tow back to shore’ challenge for turbine maintenance and major component swap out. The SENSE concept directly addresses this problem, removing the need to move the floating foundation off station. The lifetime cost reduction in the floating sector will be enormous,” said Julian Brown, wind industry veteran and non-executive director of SENSEWind. “And super tall onshore wind turbines are set to become the norm, enabling improved energy capture in lower wind regimes. SENSEWind technology is poised to set a new standard for installing and maintaining such wind farms on a cost effective and low risk basis.”

SENSEWind’s cost modeling shows that the SENSE concept would reduce the LCoE (levelized cost of electricity) for tall tower onshore wind by up to 6% and floating offshore wind by up to 9%.

The practicalities behind these figures will be thoroughly tested at the Scottish project location, slated to be the Kincardine test site off the coast of Aberdeen.

The two-and-a-half-year project will serve as a technology demonstrator for the three innovative concepts and act as a test bed to confirm cost savings and collect installation, safety, and operational data.

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