Gazelle, an Ireland-based foundation developer for floating wind farms, announced the third-generation technology of floating wind platforms, claiming that it is able to accommodate large offshore turbines up to 20MW with reduced weight, a lower cost, and a decrease in submarine cable tension.
To expand the scope of offshore wind power, numerous scholars and businesses have been targeting at far-shore wind farms, but the existing technologies for fixed turbines cannot be adopted due to the deeper water depth of such farms; the cost and construction time will thus increase multiple times, giving rise to various floating technologies.
The solution rolled out by Gazelle is a cross between semi-submersible and tension leg designs. The floating wind platform is solidly tethered to the seabed on three sides. Cables extend upwards along with the sea floor tether, pass through the floating structure and pivoting arms, and connect to the counterweight hung from the floating platform. The design is totally different from that of average floating turbines.
According to the floating platform developer, the new system can balance wave and tidal motions as well as the leverage exerted when the wind flows across turbines, thereby mitigating pitch motions with enhanced efficiency. Gazelle revealed that the new platform is smaller and lighter than a semi-submersible design, with the use of steel being cut by 70% and a 30% cost reduction. Compared to a tension leg platform, Gazelle’s dynamic mooring system places 80% less load on the sea floor tethers.
Gazelle specifies that the lighter, less costly structure can accommodate a large turbine with a capacity of up to 20MW. The modular platform can be easily produced, towed and deployed without the need of any specialized equipment, cranes or port facilities.
The company conduced a small-scale modeling test at a wave tank of the Environmental Hydraulics Institute of University of Cantabria in Spain, and acquired the first Statement of Feasibility for its offshore wind platform from DNV following a life cycle assessment on the offshore facility.
Regarding commercialization progress, Gazelle raised $14.1 million in 2021 and signed an MOU with Maersk Supply Service to build a 2MW pilot power plant on the Canary Islands regardless of the cost. As mentioned in the MOU, this power plant project will be accomplished in 2Q23, but the actual progress remains unknown. Similarly, the company announced a partnership with WAM Horizon to construct another pilot project in Portugal without revealing the actual scale and timeline, either.
(Photo credit: Gazelle)