Articulated Wind Columns: An Alternative to Floating Wind Turbines?
Posted on: 25/04/2016

New technology has been developed so that the water depths at offshore wind farms can extend from 50m to up to 200m, which reduces the need for expensive floating wind turbines. This technology has been developed by Marine Engineering Energy Solutions (MEES) who are supported by the DORIS Group and its international engineering and operations support services subsidiary ODE.

The articulated wind column (AWC) will allow deeper water access around the world for cost-reduced wind production. The structure consists of a concrete vertical column and concrete base which is located on the seabed, with two main parts connected by an articulated join which rotates about both horizontal axes. The AWC uses the buoyancy in the deeper water to maintain the support structure near vertical, resisting forces from the wind, current, and waves. The AWC can be located where the power is needed such as being closer to shore, which significantly reduces installation and operation costs.

The unit can be constructed onshore in a dry dock, and is then positioned vertically on the seabed. At that point rock ballast is sent down by a specialised ship to fill the base and the unit is installed apart from the electrical connection to the shore. The turbine and its blades can then be installed by conventional means.

It also removes the need for seabed preparation as they can be placed on uneven surfaces, and its design allows easy removal at the end of its working life. The origins of this design come from the concrete articulated column for the Maureen oil platform in the North Sea in the 1980s and a further 12 articulated loading columns have been installed, some of which are still in operation.

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