Giant offshore wind parks are being developed along the coasts to produce tremendous amounts of green power. The offshore wind power sector is seen as a major renewable energy growth market.
Latest expert studies are estimating Europe’s operating offshore wind power generation capacity to be at 40 GW by 2020. The global offshore wind investment by 2020 will reach Euro 130 billion. However, the industry faces major challenges: wind parks are increasing in size as well as distance from shore and are increasingly built in deeper water. Conventional foundations such as monopiles, gravity foundations, tripods and jackets are applicable for water depths up to 50 meters; sites with deeper water require different solutions. The need to substantially reduce construction and operating costs applies to all projects in all water depths.
Offshore Wind Farms are one of the largest market opportunities ever seen. But the sector also requires innovative technology solutions to address the various challenges. The GICON® SOF (Schwimmendes Offshore Fundament = German for ‚Floating Offshore Foundation‘) is such an innovative technology with pivotal advantages compared to conventional foundations: The GICON® SOF is deployable in water depths from 20 to 700 meters. Another key advantage is the ability to tow the SOF with turbine to the deployment site where it can be installed without special installation jack up vessels and thus nearly weather independent. Compared to other floating foundation technologies the GICON® SOF is the only solution with stability comparable to conventional foundations: there is no pitch and toss which would create additional demands on the turbine.
As part of the development GICON is planning construction, commissioning and operation of a 1:1 full scale fully functional pilot plant in the German Baltic Sea, off the coast of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, to be installed in 2014.
Functionality, usability and load capacity of the GICON® SOF were confirmed during tank tests of a 1:25 scale model at the Hamburg Ship Model Basin (HSVA) in 2012 with wave tests conducted for transport and operational mode scenarios. The anchored structure was exposed to various wave heights and wave directions, including the equivalent of a 20 meter rogue wave. The structure’s response and performance even under such harsh conditions surpassed all expectations. GICON is therefore one of the leading developers of floating foundations worldwide.
Final wind and wave tests will be conducted June 17th – 26th, 2013 at the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN), prior to the construction of the full scale pilot..
Part of this series of experiments is a demonstration event on June 24th, 2013 from 11am – 2pm where the current planning and development status will be presented to a selected industry audience.
Press release, June 10, 2013; Image: GICON