Flipping Over Offshore Wind Turbines


WindFlip AS is a Norwegian company that has developed WindFlip, a novel approach to transporting pre-assembled wind turbines to offshore locations.

The approach is described in International Application Publication No. WO 2011/051804, entitled “Partially Submersible Wind Turbine Transport Vessel” (’804 Application).

WindFlip is a specialized barge for transporting assembled offshore wind turbines. The assembled wind turbine (24) is transported on a turbine transport vessel (10) in a nearly horizontal position, as shown below in Figure 1 of the ’804 Application.

Once the vessel (10) reaches its destination, it tilts to a vertical position using seawater. More particularly, twenty-nine air-filled displacement tanks are located in the hull (22) of the vessel (10).

The displacement tanks are sequentially filled with seawater, sinking the stern (16) of the vessel (10) and the base of the turbine (24), until both are at a vertical position, as shown in Figure 4.

Once the turbine (24) and vessel (10) are oriented approximately 90 degrees to the sea surface, the turbine (24) is released and maneuvered to pre-installed anchors. After releasing the turbine (24), the vessel returns to a horizontal position by forcing the seawater out of the displacement tanks with compressed air.

See an animation of the process below.

Traditional offshore wind turbine transportation requires deep ocean depths due to the turbines’ draft. WindFlip allows pre-assembled wind turbines to be transported to offshore locations despite shallow or variable ocean depths.

Eric Lane is a patent attorney at Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps in San Diego and the author of Green Patent Blog. Mr. Lane can be reached at elane@luce.com.



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