GENERAL OVERVIEW

OF THE PROJECT




SUMMARY


Coordinated by ESTEYCO, the ELICAN project is a 3-year project co-financed by the European Commission under the H2020 program for Research and Development. Started in January 2016 and with a total budget of 17,107,301.25 € the project also counts with the collaboration of other five European partners world-leaders in their respective fields such as: GAMESA EÓLICA, S.L.U., ALE Heavy-Lift (R&D) BV, ALE Heavy-Lift IBÉRICA, S.A., UL INTERNATIONAL GMBH and PLOCAN.

Cost effective and groundbreaking, the solution uses a gravity based foundation configured to act as a buoyant platform which integrates an autolift telescopic tower together with the complete wind turbine. Each complete unit can be fully assembled onshore, conventionally towed to the site and completely installed with no need for costly and scarce heavy-lift vessels.

The telescopic configuration of the tower brings down the center of gravity during the towed self-floating transport, allowing the bottom foundation platform to temporarily act as a self-stable floating barge over which the complete system can be pre-assembled inshore, key to a highly industrialized manufacturing process with fast production rates and improved risk control.

Once ballasted to rest on the seabed, the tower can be lifted to its final position by means of cables and conventional heavy-lift strand jacks which are reused to lift one tower level after the other. The recoverable jacks that lift each level are supported by the one below, which also guides the hoisted tube as it rises, in a self-installing procedure in which the tower itself is the only supporting structure required. All works are carried out from a single access platform.

Ballasting is assisted by a dedicated low-cost reusable AFS (Auxiliary Floating System) which ensures high stability and allows optimization of each unit for service life, avoiding substructure over-dimensioning linked to this momentary operation. Construction yard requirements are minimized profiting from low draft and low height works, self-flotation and wet storage (8-10 Ha suffice for 60 unit/year production rate).

Expected cost reduction capabilities -as due diligenced both by reference developers and offshore turbine manufacturers- exceed 35% when compared to Jackets or XXL Monopiles in deep (35m plus) water. It is a system which is also excellently suited for the next generation of offshore wind turbines thanks to its direct scalability, based only on conventional and readily available equipment and means. The 8MW substructure is based in the same principles and readily available means as the 5MW, and so will the 12MW when it arrives.



3
year project supported
by the EU H2020
2016
Began in January 201
and aims at the design
6
participants
17107301
budget

The main advantages are


Significant cost reduction (30-40%) as compared to solutions based on Jackets or XL Monopiles.


Full in-shore assembly of the overall WTG on harbour (including pre-commissioning): lower sea-related risk and cost.


Direct turbine size scalability, based on current readily-available construction and installation means, ensuring economic applicability for the next generation of 8MW+ turbines.


Complete independence of heavy-lift vessels: lower risk.


Well suited for a wide water-depth range (20-60 m).


Largely based on precast concrete for low-cost industrialized construction.


Very intensive in local content of workforce, raw materials and installation means.


Robust, durable, fatigue tolerant and maintenance-free concrete substructure for greatly improved Asset Integrity, reduced OPEX costs and direct suitability for lifetime extensions.


Simplified logistics based on economic and readily available means, resulting in flexibility in scheduling and number of installation teams (i.e. installation speed).


Low-draft (<8m) and suitability for wet storage of winter production reduce requirements on needed construction yard, which can be adaptable to most large harbour infrastructures.


Suitable for most soil conditions, including soft or rocky sea-beds.


Noiseless and more environmentally friendly than steel alternatives regarding impact on sea life, carbon footprint and decommissioning.

THE METHOD

The technology has been developed and certified following all the steps along the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) typical path. Apart from the different stages of design, extensive tank testing and lab experimental demonstration have been completed. These have included multiple tests of the installation process and means in different metocean conditions, extensive monitoring of temporary and operative performance and a full design and construction certification.

A significant step, worth highlighting among these, was the construction of a full-scale testing prototype of the telescopic tower for the tuning and demonstration of the autolift system.

In short, the prototype culminates an 8-year development and demonstration process, which has been supported by reference R&D institutions such as CDTI and the Horizon 2020 program by the European Commission.

Specific impacts

 

When completed, the project shall provide a highly developed solution with the potential of qualitatively reduce the costs of deep offshore wind while simplifying the installation process, avoiding the dependence on any large auxiliary offshore crane or vessel, and allowing for industrialised on-shore focused construction and better risk control and mitigation.

The ELICAN technology can significantly contribute to the industrialization capacity and cost competitiveness of an industry which is key to provide EU with the capacity to generate large enough amounts of locally sourced renewable energy, which improves EU energy security and contributes to the gradual solving of global climate and energy challenges.

The specific impacts, expected to be generated can be grouped into the following topics:

Impacts regarding cost reduction of renewable energy. Decrease costs of production and installation. Decrease Operation & Maintenance costs and improve Asset Integrity.

Reducing life-cycle environmental impact. No noise emissions during installation and decommissioning. Fully reversible installation process for inexpensive decommissioning with no permanently left underground piles or similar elements.

Improving EU energy security. Making a key energy source in Europe’s energy strategy available and affordable to European countries with deep water coastlines.

Making variable renewable generation more predictable and grid friendly, thereby allowing larger amounts of variable output renewable sources in the grid.

Nurturing the development of the industrial capacity to produce components and systems and opening of new opportunities.

Strenghtening the European industrial technology base, thereby creating growth and jobs in Europe.

Contributing to solving the global climate and energy challenges. Breakthrough contribution to fast large scale industrial deployment of cost-efficient offshore wind.


RESULTS

 

All these experimental de-risking initiatives have proven very successful, and the result is the fully operative offshore prototype, which demonstrates both the feasibility of the construction and installation process and the cost reduction expected for the technology.

It is worth highlighting that in the offshore wind market there are not concrete towers. This 1:1 scale prototype will be the first one to be commissioned offshore. Steel offshore towers require heavy-lift vessels for installation, since the complete tower is transported from the coast. These vessels are very expensive and scarce. This limitation (high risk/cost + low availability) is solved with the ELISA technology implemented in the ELICAN project.

The ELICAN 5MW prototype, which is currently under construction in the Port of Arinaga (Canary Islands) and will be fully operative in Q2 2018, is set to become the first self-installing bottom-fixed offshore wind turbine to be commissioned in the world with full independence of costly and scarce heavy-lift vessels.

All by itself constitutes a great leap forward in the development and evolution of the offshore wind technology results.