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New Crane Design Could Extend the Life of First-Gen WTIVs

tetrahedron
Illustration courtesy Tetrahedron / Friede & Goldman

Published Jul 20, 2022 7:32 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Dutch crane designer Tetrahedron has announced it will construct a 130-meter prototype crane for next-generation offshore wind turbines. The new crane could make existing jack-up vessels suitable for installing the next generation of wind turbines at sea, with a design that is future-proof for units of up to 20 MW.

The project will be implemented in a consortium consisting of Jack-Up Barge BV, TNO, Shell and GE. The partnership recently received a grant from the Dutch government, among other forms of support. 

As offshore wind technology advances and demand for clean energy soars, next-generation wind turbines are becoming common. Some of these installations can tower over 260 meters from the surface of the water to the tip of the rotor. Such turbines can generate upwards of 12 megawatts of power or more, enough to power 10,000 households with electricity.

Unfortunately, the new gigantic turbines pose completely new technical challenges to offshore wind industry - particularly lifting. There are only a small number of WTIVs available to handle these ultra-large turbines, and newbuild vessels will be very expensive. According to Tetrahedron, the crane prototype it is developing will have the capacity to lift wind turbines higher than those that can be lifted by standard cranes, without a need to build a new jack-up vessel.

Earlier this year, Rystad Energy in a report warned operators that they needed to rapidly invest in new jack-up vessels or upgrade the existing ones. Otherwise, the operators risk being edged out of the market as super-sized turbines are expected to become the norm by the end of this decade. The Tetrahedron crane design could keep the previous generation of WTIVs in business for much longer.

“The Tetrahedron crane simply lifts 50 meters higher than existing cranes, without adding any weight or complexity. In practice, jackups that are originally designed to install 5 MW turbines can be upgraded without hull reinforcement, due to the low moment a Tetrahedron crane exerts on the jackup,” said Wilco Stavenuiter, Tetrahedron Founder and Director.

The crane prototype is scheduled to be completed in the Netherlands by 2024.