(OW) Following Principle Power and Ocergy, California – the US state poised to become one of the global floating wind hotspots – is now also home to the third US floating wind technology developer, Aikido Technologies, which aims to launch a demonstration project next year and plans on rolling its technology out internationally, once it is ready for commercial use.
Aikido Technologies has developed a floating foundation that is said to enable the installation of fully assembled wind turbines from ports, regardless of height restrictions. In the US, this encompasses 80 per cent of port areas, according to the company, which says its technology is also suitable for ports with shallow waters worldwide with its low transit draught.
The company is preparing to launch a 2 MW pilot project at the end of 2024 and aims to install a demonstrator project with a turbine of a 10 MW or 15 MW capacity in 2026 or 2027. In terms of plans for the market, Aikido is eyeing larger commercial-scale projects coming online by the end of the decade, including those in California, Scotland, other floating wind markets in Europe and the US, as well as Asia Pacific.
The solution the Californian company introduced is based on two things: transporting a fully assembled unit horizontally either on a barge or using tugboats and then, once at its designated offshore location, upending the floater using water ballast.
The platform is then locked out by inserting a pin into each of the frames that form the platform.
This way, an entire wind turbine, together with its foundation, could be assembled at a dry dock, without the need to switch ports or yards for component manufacturing, final assembly and turbine integration.
However, nacelles in the existing wind turbines are somewhat of an obstacle to assembling a unit entirely and towing it in a horizontal configuration to site.
Nevertheless, the solution can still help in reducing the amount of time and processes needed to install floating wind turbines at sea, according to Sam Kanner, co-founder and CEO at Aikido Technologies and former Lead of Research and Development at Principle Power.
“Another benefit of our technology is that we use pins in steel tubulars that form the platform and because there is no welding needed during the final assembly we are also able to better industrialise the production of the platform”, Sam Kanner told offshoreWIND.biz.
Asked about whether this solution was also suitable for enabling faster repair and maintenance, Kanner said: “This operation, using horizontal configuration for transport and water ballast for upending, is reversible because the only thing that we’re doing is adding or subtracting water and then unlocking or locking each frame of the platform”.
With nacelles being that one part standing in the way of towing fully assembled wind turbines horizontally, Aikido is developing not only the floating foundation but is also in the early development stage for its own wind turbine generator.
“Using only existing wind turbines, the tower and the platform can still be assembled horizontally in drydocks or at quaysides. In this way, we can unlock more maritime infrastructure and increase the number of units in the final assembly stage by 3-4x for a given laydown area. But we also see other benefits of our turbine technology, which we call ‘floating-specific turbine’, that would increase power production and the operational envelope of the wind turbine on any floating platform”, Sam Kanner said.
“So the wind turbine technology that we’re also developing is not unique to only our own platform design but we think that it could be applied more broadly in the floating wind market”.
Established last year after the technology was developed within Otherlab, an innovation and product development lab in San Francisco, Aikido Technologies’ solution has been supported through the ARPA-E programme.
Development towards commercialisation is now backed by Breakthrough Energy Fellows programme, which is part of Bill Gates’ foundation that supports early-stage startups bringing forward renewable energy and other climate-friendly solutions.