Nekkar ASA, a company that specializes in sustainable solutions for multiple industries, has been awarded a $2.5 million grant from Innovation Norway to develop an installation technology that could potentially reduce the cost and environmental footprint associated with wind turbine installations.
The solution – called SkyWalker – uses active heave compensation derived from offshore lifting systems combined with digital solutions that allow for remote-controlled and automated solutions. Nekkar is working together with an undisclosed major wind turbine original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and Fred Olsen Renewables – in combination with support from academia – to develop the SkyWalker.
The design and technology of SkyWalker enable a controlled lift that can operate heavier loads and reach larger heights than current crane solutions. In addition, SkyWalker reduces the environmental impact of installing wind turbines by considerably reducing CO2 emissions from transportation – it is being developed as a zero-emissions system.
“SkyWalker is a great example of how we leverage on our knowledge within oil and gas to create solutions for sustainable industries,” says Mette Harv, head of renewables at Nekkar. “The cooperation with the wind turbine OEM and Fred Olsen Renewables ensures that the development work is fully aligned with the value chain requirements of the wind power industry.”
Over time, the levelized cost of energy produced by wind turbines has been reduced to a level where wind turbines are comparable to any other source of energy. The main driver of this cost reduction is the constant increase in wind turbine size and consequent power output. There seems still to be a lot of potential in building ever bigger wind turbines. Now, however, traditional crane technologies will not allow for much bigger wind turbines.
Another objective of the SkyWalker is to enable installation of wind turbines at locations where it currently is not practically or financially viable to develop. The technology allows installation in stronger winds and will decrease the total installation time for the wind farm owners. Later versions of the SkyWalker technology can be applied to the installation of both bottom-fixed and floating offshore wind turbines, without having to make adaptations to the turbines.