FORCE Technology has commenced the development of a series of new simulator features for SimFlex4, all dedicated to the complex needs of the fast-growing industry for offshore wind turbine installation and service.

Reducing the Cost of Energy

The wind turbine industry is constantly seeking ways to reduce the Cost of Energy (CoE). As an example, the Danish Wind Industry Association has set a goal of a 50% reduction in CoE from 2010 to 2020. This ambition requires significant reductions in installation and maintenance costs.

A number of new - highly specialized - installation and service vessels are currently under consideration and development. The new vessels will be designed to be able to operate for a greater proportion of the year, at larger water depths and in more extreme environmental conditions.

In close cooperation with the industry, FORCE Technology has started the development of a simulator-based test centre for optimization and evaluation of new concepts and vessel designs related to offshore wind turbine installation and maintenance.

The virtual test centre

The virtual test centre will allow quantitative assessment of new installation methods, new installation vessel designs, new service vessel designs and concepts for transfer of personnel between service vessels and wind turbine foundations. The methods, concepts and vessel designs will typically be assessed with respect to safety and effi ciency in order to determine the limiting environmental conditions. In addition to the design and feasibility studies, the simulator centre will also be suited for crew training.

The development will concentrate on improvement of the following features:

Dynamic Positioning (DP)

A new generic DP system will enable simulation of DP assisted operations under critical conditions. Areas of special interest will be:

  • Shift from transit mode to DP mode
  • DP during leg lowering and leg raising for Jack-up vessels
  • DP performance during leg touch down

The DP simulator features will be based on the generic proprietary model DP system currently being applied at the physical model test facilities at FORCE Technology.

Jack-up operations

The new Jack-up simulation modules will include modelling of varying hydrostatics, hydrodynamics and aerodynamics. An advanced seabed module will be developed to enable simulation and training of e.g. pre-loading of legs and spud can punch-through situations (situations where the bearing capacity of the seabed is exceeded for one or more legs of the Jack-up vessel).

Operation of service vessels

The relative motions of the service vessels when approaching the wind turbine foundations are of utmost importance for the feasibility of the service operations. The hydrodynamic models of smaller vessels in relatively large waves in close vicinity of the foundation will be improved to allow simulation of e.g. feasibility of personnel transfer concepts. The development of the advanced simulator-based test facilities for the offshore wind turbine installation and service vessels is partly sponsored by the “Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education” through a performance contract running from 2013 to 2015.