Sea Installer – The Enormous Ocean Wind Turbine Installation Vessel

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Source: Siemens AG

Technological progress advances our ability to build bigger and badder machines. A recent example is Sea Installer, part of the next generation of powerful wind turbine installation vessels that are capable of moving and installing multiple turbines quickly.

Sea Installer was built by German tech giant Siemens AG together with A2SEA. Sea Installer is a faster and more efficient way to put wind turbines in the water. Like the Chinese Mayflower Resolution, the musclebound Installer saves companies and governments money at a time when the demand for offshore wind energy is on the rise around much of the world, with Northern Europe leading the way. Just days ago England used Sea Installer to install its first two turbines at Gunfleet Sands III wind farm.

The Sea Installer is a sturdy ship meant to operate in the high winds and rough waters far offshore. It’s 132 meters long, 39 meters wide, has a max speed of 12 knots (22 kph) and a payload capacity of up to 5,000 tons that allows it to transport eight to ten turbines in a single trip. It also comes equipped with longer stabilization legs which allow it to work in waters as deep as 45 meters.

Source: Siemens AG

As with other renewable energies such as solar, a common obstacle to widespread use is their questionable cost-effectiveness. The Sea Installer, as well as the new turbines the vessel is installing, is a major effort by Siemens to graduate wind turbines from a dubious choice to an obvious one.

“If energy from offshore wind turbines in the future is to be considered a wholly competitive alternative to conventional power plants,” Morten Hultbert Buchgreitz, CEO of DONG Energy which owns Gunfleet Sands III, said in a press release, “the price and cost must be reduced. Therefore it is crucial that we...demonstrate the latest technology, which at a later stage can implement in full scale on our projects.”

Source: Siemens AG

The new turbines have six megawatt capacity. They are approximately twice the size as the largest turbines already installed at Gunfleet, thus halving the number of turbines needed for the same energy output. Less turbines means cheaper installation and energy production. The Sea Installer can install the 6 megawatt turbines in less than 24 hours, which, according to Siemens, is record time.

While the vast majority of offshore wind turbines may be found off the shores of northern Europe, most countries such as the United States, which recently installed underwater turbines off the coast of Maine, are late to the game. China is one entity, like Europe, that is increasingly turning to offshore wind turbines to supplement their power grids. Others are sure to follow. And when they do, it’ll be forward-thinking companies like Siemens and A2SEA that will own the sea.

Peter Murray

Peter Murray was born in Boston in 1973. He earned a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore studying gene expression in the neocortex. Following his dissertation work he spent three years as a post-doctoral fellow at the same university studying brain mechanisms of pain and motor control. He completed a collection of short stories in 2010 and has been writing for Singularity Hub since March 2011.

Discussion — 7 Responses

  • Drazil February 11, 2013 on 12:44 pm

    would be so much better for the environment
    why have those smoke factories or what ever they are to make electricity
    when one could have nature make it for us 😀

  • Beemac February 11, 2013 on 1:30 pm

    The wind boondoggle just keeps on blowing money and slaughtering birds and bats.

    • mrimmi Beemac February 12, 2013 on 12:38 pm

      damn, you so stupid bro

  • DigitalGalaxy February 15, 2013 on 8:47 pm

    These turbines do not spin fast enough to kill birds. And, by keeping them offshore, they do not pose a threat to bats. By keeping them away from residential areas, no people are impacted by the shadow flicker, ect.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s “blowing money” it’s what we as a species need to do if we are going to get away from primitive means of fuel such as fossil fuels. We are going to need a LOT of wind turbines if we are going to replace fossil fuels. We need to get on it. Cost efficiency won’t help you when you run out of fuel, or cause so much pollution around cities that there’s clover of smog.

    Why not try to design a “bat warning system” that uses a bat sonar warning call to ward them off from land based wind turbines?

    • fireofenergy DigitalGalaxy February 16, 2013 on 11:56 am

      Other than FF’s, we have just 3 options. In order of potential, they are nuclear, solar and wind. All else is not capable, period.
      Nuclear is the most energy dense but is bogged down by the regulatory BS because all the good designs (such as LFTR and IFR, search them) are inhibited.
      Solar has unlimited potential, but it takes 3 – 4 years just to generate the energy it takes to make it (PV panels).
      The EROEI for wind takes less than a year, however it has less global potential as solar.
      Solar and wind require 4x buildup and mega utility scale storage, in order to replace FF’s.

      The LFTR (liquid fluoride thorium reactor) is the best clean energy option as it is meltdown proof, doesn’t need water for cooling, therefore doesn’t need emergency backup generators (should a prolonged power outage exist), does not have large amounts of waste material, and what waste there is decays down to naturally safe levels in 300 years (not 10,000 years). It is more proliferation resistant and thus cheaper to build. It is based on molten fuels.

      If that isn’t good enough, we will have to build thousands of artificial dams for pumped hydro water storage of electricity generated by wind turbines and we will have to do so immediately, as global warming is the most expensive thing to deal with. Then we will have to use that wind generated electricity to build tens of thousands of square miles of solar panels, a daunting task to say the least (but it is possible via advanced machine automation) not to mention highly expensive. Then we will have to build yet more storage (for electricity)

      It’s your choice… or else the entire biosphere will succumb to fossil fueled depletion into an overheated biosphere…

      • fireofenergy fireofenergy February 16, 2013 on 11:57 am

        I did not mean to reply to DigitalGalaxy, just to the post

        • DigitalGalaxy fireofenergy February 16, 2013 on 8:21 pm

          You forgot to mention geothermal “hydrogen mining” and tidal power. Underwater turbines can harness ocean currents, and offshore “Tide Turbines” can move with the tide in and out out, if they are designed to not harm fish.

          Also, the only drawback to geothermal is how far away it is from population centers. But, it is limitless in a practical sense. Geothermal plants could “mine” for hydrogen, which can be shipped anywhere to power cars without the losses from high-transmission power lines.

          No problem about replying to my post 🙂 I think nuclear is a good option as long was we can find a way to store the waste, and we can make melt-down proof reactors (which we have already).