New Floating Wind Platform Leverages Offshore O&G Construction Methods
The California-based offshore wind tech firm Principle Power has come up with a new design for a floating offshore wind platform, and this one draws more than ever before on the methods of the offshore oil and gas industry.
Most floating offshore wind systems have roughly the same layout: a triangular steel base with cylindrical sections at the corners, reinforced with diagonal steel pipe sections in between. Principle Power's initial designs were emblematic of this layout and have been installed at four sites around the world. But drawing on lessons-learned from these projects, Principle Power has redesigned its platform base for easier mass production and deployment.
The new "Windfloat F" design has pontoons and hexagonal columns, like a modern semisubmersible drill rig. It is built out of flat panel sections, which are easier to make on automated fabrication lines, and designed with block subcomponent construction in mind. This is within the capability of second-tier shipyards, and much of the fabrication can be done indoors, year-round. These construction methods are also familiar to offshore shipbuilders, who have used the same techniques for decades for building offshore oil and gas infrastructure.
Operationally, the new design also has benefits during deployment. The pontoons add enough buoyancy that the columns can be designed with a smaller diameter, opening up different options for building, moving and assembling them.
The design also reduces the water depth required alongside the pier during wind turbine integration. With pontoons, the Windfloat F only draws 30 feet when loaded, allowing developers to consider a broader range of seaports to support the initial construction and installation phase of the windfarm.
"The new product portfolio, together with our industrialization strategy, is an entirely new way of thinking about efficiency and scale. It’s our vision for a planet powered by floating wind," said Aaron Smith, Chief Commercial Officer for Principle Power.