Windcatcher Developer Contracts Axess for Concept Engineering Study of Built-In O&M System

Norwegian floating wind technology developer Wind Catching Systems (WCS) has contracted its compatriot Axess Technologies for a concept engineering study of the turbine handling system, an integrated feature of the Windcatcher multi-turbine floater that enables wind turbine repairs and component exchange without the need to tow the floater to a port.

Conceptual design of Windcatcher O&M elevator platform; Image: Wind Catching Systems

“Securing the project was a result of our vast practical experience in executing lifting operations, operating lifting appliances and conducting maintenance, along with a comprehensive understanding of rules and regulations,” said Marte Vågen, Director – Products at Axess Technologies.

“This comprehensive study aligns seamlessly with our strategy to enhance revenue streams from renewables, further solidifying our position as a key supplier of lifting solutions to the offshore wind industry.”

The operations & maintenance (O&M) solution WCS developed for Windcatcher is based on a fully integrated elevator platform for inspection, maintenance and repair operations, including replacing turbine blades and entire wind turbines.

The platform can reach any turbine on the Windcatcher system for inspection, maintenance or component replacement. The small size and weight of the turbines and blades that Windcatcher comprises allow for transport to and from the site using smaller service vessels without cranes.

Furthermore, by reducing offshore lifting to container-sized cargo close to sea level, and without the need to tow the entire floater to a port for maintenance and repairs, project developers can achieve a significant improvement in power availability and reduction in O&M costs, Wind Catching Systems says.

The Windcatcher technology, officially unveiled in 2021, utilises smaller turbines and allows for on-site replacement without specialised equipment. The novel floating wind system is said to have a design life of 50 years and is projected to cut acreage use by more than 80 per cent, according to its developer.

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The company Wind Catching Systems was founded in 2017. Once the initial design phase was completed that same year, the WCS brought the design to Aibel and IFE (Institute for Energy Technology) for further development and concept verification based on which Wind Catching Systems created a roadmap to de-risk and qualify the design.

In 2020, Ferd and North Energy came in as the company’s first external investors and, together with support from Innovation Norway, enabled Wind Catching Systems to further develop both the technology and the company.

In June 2022, the Norwegian company brought in General Motors Ventures (GMV) and other investors in a USD 10 million series A investment round to help fund the commercialisation of the Windcatcher technology. In addition to GMV, the investment round also saw WCS existing investors Ferd AS and North Energy ASA participate, and the Bergesen family investing through Havfonn AS.

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Wind Catching Systems and General Motors also entered into a strategic partnership agreement for collaboration covering technology development, project execution, offshore wind policy, and the advancement of sustainable technology applications.

In October 2022, WCS received a technology development grant from government enterprise Enova to support the design, construction and testing of a wind turbine for its floating multi-turbine structure, and was granted further support from Enova last year.

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Awarded at the beginning of 2023, the funds were granted for pre-project work to support the initial implementation of a full-scale Windcatcher. Through the pre-project, Wind Catching Systems aims to mature and validate the technology and cost estimates for the full-scale floating wind system.


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