Gicon floater passes tank tests

Gicon’s novel floating wind turbine concept, the SOF, has moved a step closer to a first full-scale deployment, following tank tests that proved the hybrid design can be towed to site through high waves and heavy wind.

Trials of the full-size unit, carried out at the Technical University of Berlin, showed the foundation, a tension leg platform (TLP) concept designed to be fixed to the seabed in water depths of between 20-500-plus metres, was up to travelling over 3.5-metre waves at speeds of seven knots.

This seaworthiness means the SOF, a latticework of braces and flotation cylinders that sits half-submerged in the water, like a semi-submersible, will not have to be installed offshore by a special transport barge, dramatically improving its economics.

“These positive tests mark another major step forwards the reaslisation of the floating offshore foundation,” states Gicon chief executive Jochen Grossmann.

“They reinforce our confidence in successfully constructing and deploying a full-scale model [of a SOF-mated wind turbine] in 2014.”

The planned flagship SOF unit features a 2-3MW turbine atop a 70-metre tower. Construction is slated to begin this year in northeast Germany, with steel fabrication at P+S Werften in Stralsund and final assembly at Nordic Yards in Rostock.

The unit — which uses a modularised design fine-tuned before test last year at Dutch R&D facility Marin to whittle down the number of components for “ease and speed” of construction — will be built quayside, complete with turbine, and towed to its operation site.

Gicon recently said it was in “final discussions” with a shortlist of turbine suppliers.

The company has told Recharge it is looking beyond the Baltic Sea project to a North Sea pilot in 2015 using a 5-6MW turbine “with partners either from Germany, France, Spain and/or the US”.

A video can be seen here