Have you ever wondered how they build turbines at sea?  Here's what it takes to create an American wind farm

Have you ever wondered how they build turbines at sea? Here’s what it takes to create an American wind farm

Right this moment’s offshore wind generators are taller than the Boston skyline.

Every blade is concerning the size of a soccer discipline, which suggests you need to reduce 50 toes to get one contained in the state’s Wind Expertise Testing Heart in Charlestown.

That is the place Winery Wind’s blade underwent stress testing earlier this 12 months.

In a cavernous check room, the blade is mounted horizontally by the bottom. A hydraulic piston – making a delicate hiss-hum-hiss sound – strikes the blade from under and the weights clamped on the blade add stress.

It is like wagging a canine’s tail.

Government director Rahul Yarala mentioned it simulates the stress of real-world circumstances.

WTTC Government Director Rahul Yarala stands in entrance of a turbine blade examined for energy.

“You see a utility-scale wind turbine blade present process structural testing,” he mentioned. “So it goes up and it goes down. That is what it might do at most wind pace, when producing rated energy.

The silver grey shade makes the blades appear to be steel, but it surely’s not.

To be as mild as potential, they’re fabricated from skinny layers of fiberglass and balsa wooden, fused along with resin. They’re hole, bolstered inside with fiberglass reinforcements.

Previous to this, the blade underwent weeks of static testing – referred to as the ‘crash check’.

That is when the lab places a very large load on the blade, simulating a 50-year gust of wind, to verify it does not break.

“And generally, for analysis functions, we hold going till the blade breaks,” Yarala mentioned. The concept is to point to the producer the extent of the security margins. “We break it on goal, to search out out extra.”


As soon as the parts have been examined and permits and contracts signed, it is time to construct.

The primary main US offshore wind farm, Winery Wind, could have 62 generators. Employees are at the moment laying undersea cables and the generators are anticipated to be put in subsequent summer time, 15 miles south of Martha’s Winery.

Construct an offshore wind farm

  • Employees drive piles into the seabed utilizing a bubble curtain – a round wall of bubbles – to scale back underwater noise and disturbance to marine life.
  • A heavy elevate ship transports turbine parts throughout the Atlantic from Europe, and last meeting takes place at a US transit port.
  • Domestically operated barges transport the turbine parts to the wind farm.
  • A crane makes use of specialised attachments known as yokes to elevate every sort of part, together with towers, nacelles, and blades, into place.
  • Blades are put in final. The crew will dwell on board the set up for 2 to a few weeks and might set up a turbine each 24 hours.

Offshore wind is so new to america that the set up course of continues to be being labored out.

For one factor, a century-old legislation known as the Jones Act states that delivery between any two factors in america should be executed with a United States-registered vessel.

And a wind farm counts as one level.

However, as Winery Wind CEO Klaus Skoust Moeller factors out, transporting wind generators to a wind farm with an American ship just isn’t but potential.

“There aren’t any giant set up vessels truly accessible in america,” he mentioned. “We do not have them as a result of they do not exist, will we? »


As a substitute, they are going to be utilizing a Danish ship – aptly named Sea Installer.

Somewhat than transporting the generators itself, as these ships do in Europe, it must stay on the wind farm whereas American barges transport the parts.


A bubble curtain can be used throughout pile driving to scale back noise and disturbance to marine life.

However let’s step again, as a result of what disturbs marine life essentially the most throughout development is the sinking of foundations into the seabed.

Moeller mentioned they might use a bubble curtain – a wall of air bubbles – to scale back noise.

“It is principally a pipe that bubbles by means of the water, which reduces noise,” he mentioned.

Winery Wind’s turbine parts can be sourced primarily from Europe on what’s known as a heavy-lift vessel, designed for additional weight and bulk.

The towers are shipped in sections and assembled on the port of transit – within the case of Winery Wind, New Bedford.


Martin Lind Hansen is the US Offshore Development Supervisor for Siemens Gamesa, a turbine producer supplying different tasks on the East Coast.

He mentioned 12 to 14 individuals dwell and work on an set up ship.

“It is one thing very distinctive to be part of. … It is a vital step in the direction of a greener future for America.” —Martin Lind Hansen, Siemens Gamesa

“The dwelling quarters [are] truly fairly good,” he mentioned. Two crew members share a room, however work completely different shifts, “with all potential facilities – tv, phone methods, and so forth., and so forth.”.

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The Sea Installer jack-up vessel will rise on all fours to turn out to be a set platform for the Winery Wind set up. Employees use the crane and specialised attachments, known as yokes, to elevate turbine parts.

They obtain three meals a day. They work 12-hour shifts and spend two or three weeks on the ship earlier than leaving.

“You get your laundry executed in your rotation. And principally the one factor you need to fear about is getting up within the morning, or every time your shift begins, and being prepared,” he mentioned.


A crane attachment, known as a yoke, is designed to select up turbine components. The mannequin pictured right here, Seaqualize’s Heave Chief 1100, can be used for Winery Wind. It is model new and will not hit the market till March.

The boat is a jack-up vessel, that means it may possibly elevate itself on all fours, lifting the hull out of the water to create a set platform.
A crane with completely different attachments, known as yokes, picks up offshore wind towers, nacelles and blades and lifts them into place.
The nacelle is the mechanical coronary heart of the turbine, containing the kinematic chain and the generator.
Hansen mentioned staff should have intensive information to carry out the sort of set up.

“They will repair all of the bolts and ensure they’re safe,” Hansen mentioned. “Then they’ll dismantle the lifting gear, then the nacelle can be finalized electrically and mechanically by these technicians who [are] already within the tower.

The blades ignite final.

With a whole bunch of generators slated for the East Coast and the well being of the planet at stake, Hansen mentioned it appears like everybody concerned is pleased with what it means.

“It is one thing very distinctive to be part of,” he mentioned. “This can be a vital step in the direction of a greener future for America.”

And in spite of everything that planning, the crew can set up a turbine each 24 hours.

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