A consortium led by GICON Grossmann Ingenieur Consult GmbH has developed a floating platform designed to be used for offshore wind farms.
GICON says the floating offshore foundation (FOF) can be deployed not only in deep water, but also in water as shallow as 25 meters.
‘This versatility addresses a number of key challenges,’ explains Jochen Grossmann, CEO of GICON GmbH. ‘The existing foundation technologies require suitable weather conditions, as well as availability of installation vessels. Our FOF can be assembled at shore, including the turbine, and then towed with standard tugboats to the deployment site.’
In addition, floating foundations have less of an impact on marine life due to reduced construction-related noise, such as pile driving, according to Grossmann.
In February, GICON tested the latest design at the Hamburg Ship Model Basin HSVA. A 1:25 scale model was exposed to various wind and wave conditions, and it completed tow trials to confirm functionality, usability and load capacity during operation and transport.
The data acquired during the tank tests validated the simulations. These tests included the equivalent of a 20-meter "rogue wave" that the structure weathered without any problems, GICON says, adding that these successful tests are another milestone toward the deployment of a full-scale pilot in the German Baltic Sea in 2013.
The GICON FOF is based on the tension leg platform principle, which was originally developed for the oil and gas industry. GICON's modular steel structure is equipped with buoyancy elements and is moored utilizing both vertical and diagonal bracing. Because ocean-floor conditions vary, a number of different anchoring solutions also have been developed.
The consortium under GICON's leadership includes the Technical University and Mining Academy Freiberg, Rostock University, Jaehnig GmbH, Fugro GmbH, Vermessungsbuero Weigt, GLC Gluecksburg Consulting, the Institute for Applied Ecology, WPC Wind Power Construction and wpd Offshore. The consortium's work is supported by various German federal and state funding initiatives.