The EU-funded ELICAN project's 5 MW prototype, which has been installed in the Canary Islands, has become the first self-installing, bottom-fixed offshore wind turbine to be commissioned in the world with full independence of costly heavy-lift vessels.
Up to 35 % of costs can be saved throughout the process compared to current solutions. Pre-assembly of the complete system inshore, using prefabricated concrete sections, cuts construction and maintenance expenses.
Meanwhile, the telescopic configuration brings down the center of gravity, enabling the platform to act as a self-stable floating barge that can be towed by readily available tugs and eliminating the need for specialized boats and cranes.
"No bottom-fixed offshore wind turbine has previously been built that did not require a scarce and costly – from EUR 250 000 to EUR 500 000 per day – heavy lift for the installation of the foundation, tower and turbine in their final position," says project coordinator José Serna García-Conde of civil engineering and architecture consulting firm Esteyco in Spain.
José added: "The advantages in terms of savings, logistics and overrun risk in case of contingency or delay are immense."
The technology comes with several environmental benefits. These include reduced energy requirements and a lower carbon footprint for a self-installing and locally-built precast concrete solution versus steel towers that require high fuel consumption for transport and installation. The substructure, less disruptive to install, can also reduce the impact on marine mammals.
The ELICAN consortium’s successful demonstration is serving as a springboard for marketing the integrated substructure system for deep-offshore wind energy generation.
"With regard to economic benefits, the installation cost of the technology prototype is around EUR 3 million/MW, which is already below average market price despite being a single and first unit, and has a huge reduction potential in serial production," said Serna García-Conde.
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