The U.K.’s Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has granted £10 million for the design and construction of a new floating wind turbine demonstrator off the coast of Scotland.

The SENSE PelaStar project will feature SENSEWind’s turbine self-installation system, the PelaStar tension leg platform (TLP) floating foundation from Glosten and Subsea Micropile anchors. The SENSE concept will be put through its paces on a fully operational 2 MW floating wind turbine with installation set for late 2023.

The SENSE concept (stands for self-erecting nacelle and service) looks to upend the conventional approach to installation and O&M by eliminating the need for special cranes and allowing the full rotor nacelle assembly (RNA) to be installed and serviced directly on site and is particularly suited to deep water floating projects.

“The SENSEWind system is designed to scale at the speed of turbine innovation. Special cranes and crane vessels will be prohibitively expensive as we attempt to keep levelized cost of energy on a downward trajectory both onshore and offshore,” said Patrick Geraets, CEO of SENSEWind. “This system solves the looming problem of installing and servicing massive, and increasingly remote, wind turbines. The larger and further from shore the turbines get, the more valuable the SENSE system becomes.”

“We are thankful for the vision of BEIS and our project partners to seize the opportunity to demonstrate the PelaStar TLP, a deep-water foundation that minimizes steel weight, turbine motions, seabed disruption, and accessibility limits, as a solution well suited for development of commercial deep water wind projects in the U.K. and beyond. With this project, we can prove that the SENSEWind system will enable the quayside assembly and installation of PelaStar floating wind turbines with readily available marine equipment, avoiding the need to use specialized installation vessels and floating-to-floating tower and RNA offshore assembly,” said Ben Ackers, vice president of Glosten and managing director of PelaStar, LLC.

“The Achilles heel of floating wind is the ‘tow back to shore’ challenge for turbine maintenance and major component swap out. The SENSE concept directly addresses this problem, removing the need to move the floating foundation off station. The lifetime cost reduction in the floating sector will be enormous,” said Julian Brown, wind industry veteran and Non-Executive Director of SENSEWind. “And super tall onshore wind turbines are set to become the norm, enabling improved energy capture in lower wind regimes. SENSEWind technology is poised to set a new standard for installing and maintaining such wind farms on a cost effective and low risk basis.”

The company’s cost modelling shows that the SENSE concept would reduce LCoE for tall tower onshore wind by up to 6% and floating offshore wind by up to 9%. The practicalities behind these figures will be thoroughly tested at the Scottish project location, slated to be the Kincardine test site off the coast of Aberdeen.

Geraets continued, “Thanks in large part to the support from BEIS, the SENSE PelaStar demonstrator will radically change base assumptions for the deployment of GW scale floating offshore wind. The technology currently scales to 15MW+ turbines and is ideally suited for Scotwind floating projects. And while the SENSE concept is applicable to any floating wind foundation technology, we are particularly excited to be working with the Glosten team to demonstrate their PelaStar TLP technology for the first time.”

The SENSE PelaStar project requires a total investment of £22 million, and its partners said there is room for new investment partners.

Brown continued, “Incremental advances based on yesterday’s technology will never get us to our global deployment goals. The pace of innovation at the project development and turbine manufacturer level demands nothing short of a revolution in the supply chain…and visionary leadership to make it happen. The SENSE PelaStar concept will add immense value to tomorrow’s leading project developers and improve the prospects for U.K. supply chain involvement in the U.K. floating offshore wind industry.”

SENSEWind will lead an experienced team of partners in the project which will bring together three game-changing technologies: a 2 MW turbine installed using the SENSE system on a Glosten TLP foundation with micropile mooring from Subsea Micropiles.

The two-and-a-half-year project will serve as a technology demonstrator for the three innovative concepts and act as a test bed to confirm cost savings and collect installation, safety, and operational data.

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