Gazelle Unveils 3rd Gen Floating Wind Platform, Latest Design Uses Less Steel and Reduces Environmental Footprint
Ireland-based floating wind technology company Gazelle Wind Power unveiled the third generation of its floating wind technology this week at WindEurope 2023 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The company, which earlier this month announced that it partnered with the Portuguese renewable energy developer WAM Horizon for a pilot project in Aguçadoura, says that the new, enhanced design further refines its solution to address the primary challenges facing the offshore wind industry such as cost, supply chain bottlenecks, and sustainability.
The third-generation floating wind platform provides a lightweight, cheaper design that minimises the impact on fragile marine environments while using the existing port infrastructure and also delivers enhanced mooring innovation that enables serial production, according to the floating wind technology developer.
The new iteration of the platform makes first-generation technology, which was primarily designed to float and survive harsh ocean conditions, obsolete and improves on second-generation designs that are focused on industrialisation.
“Instead, Gazelle’s platform moves away from archaic models that are stationary, heavy, bulky, and difficult to assemble and transport while reducing costs by 30% compared to conventional semi-submersible designs. Part of this improvement comes from the reduction in steel versus traditional offshore platforms. For example, a one-gigawatt offshore wind farm using Gazelle’s solution would save 71 kt of steel and reduce emissions of approximately 100 kt of carbon dioxide”, the company says.
The platform design, using globally available components and a modular assembly process, allows for quick and simple installation at project sites because it requires no specialist cranes or vessels, Gazelle emphasised.
“On top of lowering costs and taking advantage of pre-existing infrastructure, every aspect of Gazelle’s floating offshore wind platform is designed to minimize environmental impact by using less steel and materials that protect the biodiversity of marine ecosystems, eliminating seabed scouring, and reducing installation impact”, said Gazelle CTO Jason Wormald.
The platform’s unique geometry provides reduced draft in port, which means it floats higher in the water enabling the use of shallow ports with high stability in towing and wet storage. Pivoting arms allow the platform to move with the wind, waves, and tides that result in lower forces, enabling a lighter—and therefore cheaper—structure, according to the company.
The platform utilises a dynamic mooring system representing a paradigm shift from an active ballast to a natural, passive system that balances forces and motions through a counterweight, keeping the turbine pitch low and improving operational efficiency.
Vertical mooring lines attached to the pivoting arms reduce the platform’s environmental footprint by minimising impact and allowing for a 75 per cent reduction in mooring length when compared to semi-submersibles with catenary mooring in depths of 100 metres or more, Gazelle says.
“Through industrial innovation, the platform components can be adjusted to accommodate all forecasted offshore wind turbine sizes, including the current 15MW or greater capacities”, said Jason Wormald. “Additionally, our platform can be produced anywhere in the world, supporting job creation through regionalized manufacturing”.
Besides Portugal, Gazelle is also expected to install a 2 MW pilot wind turbine at the Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN) test site offshore Spain this year.
Furthermore, the company has also partnered with several industry players to advance the implementation of its floating platform system, including memoranda of understanding signed with VCE, Bridon-Bekaert Ropes Group, and Maersk Supply Service. In 2022, Gazelle Wind Power also signed a memorandum of understanding with Ferrofab FZE, a UAE-based engineering and manufacturing firm, to establish a Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the Ferrofab Jebel Ali facility in Dubai.
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