The seemingly never ending ramp up in offshore wind installations in recent years, together with the drive for ever larger and heavier wind turbines in deeper waters, presents the industry with many logistical challenges. Not least of these is heavy lifting operations in deep waters.
The next generation of turbines, up to 20 MW, are likely to have nacelle weights upwards of 600 t, mounted on the top of towers with heights of over 160 m and with rotor diameters exceeding 265 m. The assembly of these machines will be a mammoth undertaking, however it is achieved. Despite the recent developments of XXXL monopiles, in water depths of over 80 m it is most likely that these machines will be mounted on floating foundations. Many existing proposals intend to carry out the machine’s assembly at a quayside or facility close to shore, but without towing the floater back to port any major component replacement will still require an offshore crane.