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Title:
WIND TURBINE ASSEMBLY INSTALLATION DEVICE AND METHOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/231261
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention relates to a vessel with an installation device for the installation of a tower of a wind turbine assembly onto a foundation, wherein the vessel comprises a floating hull with a deck, and wherein the installation device comprises a base frame, a suspension 5 between the deck and the base frame, and an upending installation that supports the tower, wherein the upending installation is hingeably connected to the base frame for hinging around a horizontal first axis, wherein the installation device is switchable between a first mode in 10 which the base frame is fixedly supported on the deck, and a second mode in which the base frame is moveably supported on the deck, and the upending installation is hingeable around the first axis for tilting the tower around a horizontal second axis between a transport position for the 15 tower and an upended position of the tower.

Inventors:
KLAVER JAN PIETER (NL)
VAN GRIEKEN GERARDUS CORNELIUS (NL)
Application Number:
PCT/NL2020/050308
Publication Date:
November 19, 2020
Filing Date:
May 14, 2020
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
KENZ FIGEE GROUP B V (NL)
International Classes:
F03D13/10; B63B35/00; E02B17/02; F03D13/25
Domestic Patent References:
WO2006080850A12006-08-03
WO2018151594A12018-08-23
Foreign References:
CN101169108A2008-04-30
CN103807115A2014-05-21
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GEURTS, Franciscus Antonius (NL)
Download PDF:
Claims:
C L A I M S

1. Vessel with an installation device for the installation of a wind turbine assembly onto a wind turbine foundation in a sea, wherein the wind turbine assembly comprises at least a tower with a tower base to be installed onto the foundation, and wherein the vessel comprises a floating hull with a deck, and wherein the installation device comprises a base frame, a first suspension between the deck and the base frame that supports the base frame, and an upending installation that supports the tower of the wind turbine assembly, wherein the upending installation is hingeably connected to the base frame for hinging with respect to the base frame around a horizontal first axis, wherein the installation device is switchable between a first mode and a second mode, wherein in the first mode the base frame is fixedly supported on the deck by the first suspension, and wherein in the second mode the base frame is moveably supported on the deck by the first suspension, and the upending installation is hingeable around the first axis for tilting the tower with respect to the foundation around a horizontal second axis between a transport position for the tower and an upended position of the tower in which the tower base is positioned above the foundation.

2. Vessel according to claim 1, wherein in the second mode of the installation device the tower is tiltable only around the second axis.

3. Vessel according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the installation device comprises a foundation gripper for gripping the foundation, and a second suspension between the foundation gripper and the base frame that supports the foundation gripper beyond the deck, wherein in the first mode of the installation device the foundation gripper is fixedly connected to the foundation, and the base frame is moveable with respect to the foundation gripper by means of the second suspension, and wherein in the second mode the foundation gripper is fixedly connected to the foundation, and the base frame is hingeable with respect to the foundation gripper around a horizontal third axis by means of the second suspension.

4. Vessel according to claim 3, wherein in the second mode of the installation device the base frame is only hingeable with respect to the foundation gripper around the third axis.

5. Vessel according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the first axis is parallel to the second axis .

6. Vessel according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the first axis coincides with the second axis .

7. Vessel according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the first suspension comprises a deck support on the deck and a pendulum that is hingeably connected to the deck support and to the base frame.

8. Vessel according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the first suspension comprises a first support cylinder between the deck support and the base frame, wherein the first support cylinder is configured to move, allow to move, dampen or constrain the base frame with respect to the deck in a translation direction parallel to the deck.

9. Vessel according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the first suspension comprises a second support cylinder between the deck and the base frame, wherein the second support cylinder is configured to move, allow to move, dampen or constrain the base frame with respect to the deck in a rotation direction around a horizontal axis.

10. Vessel according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the first suspension comprises a third support cylinder between the deck and the base frame, wherein the third support cylinder is configured to move, allow to move, dampen or constrain the base frame with respect to the deck in a rotation direction around a vertical axis.

11. Vessel according to any one of the claims 8- 10, wherein in the first mode of the installation device the support cylinder is locked to have a fixed length between the base frame and the deck, and in the second mode of the installation device the support cylinder is unlocked to have a variable length between the base frame and the deck .

12. Vessel according to claim 11, wherein in the second mode of the installation device the support cylinder is configured to dampen or absorb the motions of the base frame with respect to the deck.

13. Vessel according to any one of the claims 3-

12, wherein the second suspension comprises a first gripper cylinder between the foundation gripper and the base frame, wherein the first gripper cylinder is configured to move, allow to move, dampen or constrain the foundation gripper with respect to the base frame in a translation direction transverse to the deck.

14. Vessel according to any one of the claims 3-

13, wherein the second suspension comprises a second gripper cylinder between the foundation gripper and the base frame, wherein the second gripper cylinder is configured to move, allow to move, dampen or constrain the foundation gripper with respect to the base frame in a translation direction parallel to the deck.

15. Vessel according to any one of the claims 3-

14, wherein the second suspension comprises a third gripper cylinder between the foundation gripper and the base frame, wherein the third gripper cylinder is configured to move, allow to move, dampen or constrain the foundation gripper with respect to the base frame in a rotation direction around a vertical axis.

16. Vessel according to any one of the claims 13- 15, wherein in the first mode of the installation device the gripper cylinder is unlocked to have a variable length between the base frame and the foundation gripper, and in the second mode of the installation device the gripper cylinder is locked to have a fixed length between the base frame and the foundation gripper.

17. Vessel according to claim 16, wherein in the first mode of the installation device the gripper cylinder is configured to dampen or absorb the motions of the foundation gripper with respect to the base frame.

18. Vessel according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the upending installation comprises a main upending frame that is hingeably connected to the base frame and an alignment frame that supports the tower and that is hingeably connected to the main upending frame, wherein the main upending frame is hingeable around the horizontal first axis and the alignment frame is hingeable around a horizontal fourth axis to jointly hinge between the transport position for the tower and the upended position of the tower.

19. Vessel according to claim 18, wherein the fourth axis is parallel to the first axis.

20. Vessel according to claim 18 or 19, wherein the fourth axis coincides with the first axis.

21. Vessel according to any one of the claims 18- 20, wherein in the upended position of the upending installation the main upending frame has a first rotation angle with respect to the base frame, and the alignment frame has a second rotation angle with respect to the main upending frame.

22. Vessel according to claim 21, wherein the first rotation angle is larger than the second rotation angle .

23. Vessel according to claims 21 or 22, wherein the first rotation angle is between 70 and 90 degrees and the second rotation angle is between 20 and 0 degrees.

24. Vessel according to any one of the claims 18- 23, wherein the upending installation comprises at least one alignment cylinder between the main upending frame and the alignment frame, wherein in the upended position of the upending installation the alignment cylinder is configured to compensate for residual motions between the foundation and the main upending frame.

25. Method for installing a wind turbine assembly onto a wind turbine foundation in a sea by means of a vessel with an installation device, wherein the wind turbine assembly comprises at least a tower with a tower base to be installed onto the foundation, and wherein the vessel comprises a floating hull with a deck, and wherein the installation device comprises a base frame, a first suspension between the deck and the base frame that supports the base frame, and an upending installation that supports the tower of the wind turbine assembly, wherein the upending installation is hingeably connected to the base frame for hinging with respect to the base frame around a horizontal first axis, wherein the installation device is switchable between a first mode and a second mode, wherein in the first mode the base frame is fixedly supported on the deck by the first suspension, and wherein in the second mode the base frame is moveably supported on the deck by the first suspension, and the upending installation is hingeable around the first axis for tilting the tower with respect to the foundation around a horizontal second axis between a transport position for the tower and an upended position of the tower in which the tower base is positioned above the foundation,

wherein the method comprises sailing the vessel to the foundation, in the first mode of the installation device allowing the base frame to move with respect to the foundation and fixedly supporting the base frame on the deck by the first suspension, switching from the first mode to the second mode of the installation device, and in the second mode allowing the base frame to hinge with respect to the foundation around a horizontal third axis parallel to the first axis and moveably supporting the base frame on the deck by the first suspension, and hinging the upending installation around the first axis for tilting the tower around the second axis between the transport position for the tower and the upended position of the tower for positioning the tower base above the foundation.

26. Method according to claim 25, wherein the installation device comprises a foundation gripper for gripping the foundation, and a second suspension between the foundation gripper and the base frame that supports the foundation gripper beyond the deck, wherein in the first mode of the installation device the foundation gripper is fixedly connected to the foundation, and the base frame is moveable with respect to the foundation gripper by means of the second suspension, and wherein in the second mode of the installation device the base frame is hingeable with respect to the foundation gripper around the horizontal third axis by means of the second suspension,

wherein in the method the vessel is moved towards the foundation to receive the foundation in the foundation gripper, and the foundation is subsequently fixedly gripped by the foundation gripper, and wherein in the second mode of the installation device the base frame hinges with respect to the foundation gripper around the third axis.

27. Method according to claim 25 or 26, wherein the first suspension comprises at least one support cylinder between the base frame and the deck, and wherein the method furthermore comprises in the first mode of the installation device locking the at least one support cylinder to have a fixed length between the base frame and the deck, and in the second mode of the installation device unlocking the at least one support cylinder to have a variable length between the base frame and the deck.

28. Method according to claim 27, wherein the at least one support cylinder is configured to dampen or absorb the motions of the base frame with respect to the deck, wherein the method furthermore comprises in the second mode of the installation device dampening or absorbing the motions of the base frame with respect to the deck .

29. Method according to any one of the claims 26- 28, wherein the second suspension comprises at least one gripper cylinder between the base frame and the foundation gripper, and wherein the method furthermore comprises in the first mode of the installation device unlocking the at least one gripper cylinder to have a variable length between the base frame and the foundation gripper, and in the second mode of the installation device locking the at least one gripper cylinder to have a fixed length between the base frame and the foundation gripper.

30. Method according to claim 29, wherein the at least one gripper cylinder is configured to dampen or absorb the motions of the foundation gripper with respect to base frame, wherein the method furthermore comprises in the first mode of the installation device dampening or absorbing the motions of the foundation gripper with respect to the base frame.

31. Method according to any one of the claims 25- 30, wherein the upending installation comprises a main upending frame that is hingeably connected to the base frame and an alignment frame that supports the tower and that is hingeably connected to the main upending frame, wherein the main upending frame is hingeable around the horizontal first axis and the alignment frame is hingeable around a horizontal fourth axis to jointly hinge between the transport position for the tower and the upended position of the tower, wherein the method furthermore comprises hinging the main upending frame around the first axis and hinging the alignment frame around the fourth axis for jointly tilting the tower around the second axis between the transport position for the tower and the upended position of the tower for positioning the tower base above the foundation.

32. Method according to claim 31, wherein the upending installation comprises at least one alignment cylinder between the main upending frame and the alignment frame, wherein the alignment cylinder is configured to compensate for residual motions between the foundation and the main upending frame, wherein the method furthermore comprises in the upended position of the upending installation compensating the residual motions between the foundation and the main upending frame.

-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-

JP/FG

Description:
Wind turbine assembly installation device and method

BACKGROUND

The invention relates to a wind turbine assembly installation device and a wind turbine assembly installation method.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Offshore wind turbines are generally installed in two or more phases. Firstly the foundation is installed and subsequently the different parts of the wind turbine assembly are installed by a crane vessel. The tower is installed onto the foundation, the nacelle comprising a hub is installed onto the tower and blades are attached to the hub.

The trend is that new offshore wind turbines have ever higher power generation capacity. This results in significantly larger wind turbines having higher and heavier towers, heavier nacelles and longer blades. The increased weight and size of the wind turbine components leads to problems for the installation thereof. Currently the existing crane vessels only have just enough lifting capacity and/or lifting height to install the current size wind turbines. However in the near and distant future a large part of the existing crane vessels will not be able to install the newly developed larger wind turbines. For lifting vessels that have sufficient lifting capacity and height the logistics of installation methods are complex as the larger components require a lot of storage space and transport capacity in the supply chain. Also handling of the larger components offshore is challenging as wind and waves negatively affect the lead time of the installation sequence. Installing the larger wind turbines is time consuming and therefore expensive.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a wind turbine assembly installation device and a wind turbine assembly installation method to install wind turbine assemblies without the need to use a crane vessel.

According to a first aspect, the invention provides a vessel with an installation device for the installation of a wind turbine assembly onto a wind turbine foundation in a sea, wherein the wind turbine assembly comprises at least a tower with a tower base to be installed onto the foundation, and wherein the vessel comprises a floating hull with a deck, and wherein the installation device comprises a base frame, a first suspension between the deck and the base frame that supports the base frame, and an upending installation that supports the tower of the wind turbine assembly, wherein the upending installation is hingeably connected to the base frame for hinging with respect to the base frame around a horizontal first axis, wherein the installation device is switchable between a first mode and a second mode, wherein in the first mode the base frame is fixedly supported on the deck by the first suspension, and wherein in the second mode the base frame is moveably supported on the deck by the first suspension, and the upending installation is hingeable around the first axis for tilting the tower with respect to the foundation around a horizontal second axis between a transport position for the tower and an upended position of the tower in which the tower base is positioned above the foundation.

To upend the tower the installation device or the tower itself will be connected to the foundation so that the tower is tiltable with respect to the foundation in a vertical plane. The tower can be supported by both the foundation and the vessel. The installation device allows active motion compensation of the base frame with respect to the hull that is subject to wave induced motions. The first suspension can be an active motion compensation system. By moveably supporting the tower on the deck by the first suspension the wave induced motions of the vessel do not result in high forces on the foundation or in the installation device.

During upending of the tower or during final vertical lowering of the tower onto the foundation a significant part of the weight of the wind turbine assembly can be supported by the foundation. This reduces the required upending capacity or motion compensation capacity and therefore the installation device can be designed relatively light.

In an embodiment in the second mode of the installation device the tower is tiltable only around the second axis. In this embodiment the six degrees of freedom of the tower with respect to the foundation have been reduced to one degree of freedom. Only this degree of freedom needs to be motion compensated.

In an embodiment the installation device comprises a foundation gripper for gripping the foundation, and a second suspension between the foundation gripper and the base frame that supports the foundation gripper beyond the deck, wherein in the first mode of the installation device the foundation gripper is fixedly connected to the foundation, and the base frame is moveable with respect to the foundation gripper by means of the second suspension, and wherein in the second mode the foundation gripper is fixedly connected to the foundation, and the base frame is hingeable with respect to the foundation gripper around a horizontal third axis by means of the second suspension.

The foundation gripper makes connecting the installation device to the foundation straightforward and can ensure that the first and second axis coincide.

In an embodiment in the second mode of the installation device the base frame is only hingeable with respect to the foundation gripper around the third axis. The foundation gripper directly connects the base frame to the foundation and can ensure that the first and second axis coincide.

In an embodiment the first axis is parallel to the second axis.

In an embodiment the first axis coincides with the second axis.

In an embodiment the first suspension comprises a deck support on the deck and a pendulum that is hingeably connected to the deck support and to the base frame. The pendulum allows the vessel to move with respect to the base frame while transferring a large part of the weight of the wind turbine assembly to the deck of the vessel. The pendulum can be a rod or a hydraulic cylinder.

In an embodiment the first suspension comprises a first support cylinder between the deck support and the base frame, wherein the first support cylinder is configured to move, allow to move, dampen or constrain the base frame with respect to the deck in a translation direction parallel to the deck. In the first mode the first support cylinder can fixedly support the base frame on the deck and in the second mode can moveably support and/or dampen the base frame with respect to the deck.

In an embodiment the first suspension comprises a second support cylinder between the deck and the base frame, wherein the second support cylinder is configured to move, allow to move, dampen or constrain the base frame with respect to the deck in a rotation direction around a horizontal axis. In the first mode the second support cylinder can fixedly support the base frame on the deck and in the second mode can moveably support and/or dampen the base frame with respect to the deck.

In an embodiment the first suspension comprises a third support cylinder between the deck and the base frame, wherein the third support cylinder is configured to move, allow to move, dampen or constrain the base frame with respect to the deck in a rotation direction around a vertical axis. In the first mode the third support cylinder can fixedly support the base frame on the deck and in the second mode can moveably support and/or dampen the base frame with respect to the deck.

In an embodiment in the first mode of the installation device the support cylinder is locked to have a fixed length between the base frame and the deck, and in the second mode of the installation device the support cylinder is unlocked to have a variable length between the base frame and the deck.

In an embodiment in the second mode of the installation device the support cylinder is configured to dampen or absorb the motions of the base frame with respect to the deck. The support cylinder can form part of an active motion compensation system between the base frame and the hull.

In an embodiment the second suspension comprises a first gripper cylinder between the foundation gripper and the base frame, wherein the first gripper cylinder is configured to move, allow to move, dampen or constrain the foundation gripper with respect to the base frame in a translation direction transverse to the deck. In the first mode the first gripper cylinder can moveably suspend the foundation gripper from the base frame and in the second mode can fixedly suspend and/or dampen the foundation gripper with respect to the base frame.

In an embodiment the second suspension comprises a second gripper cylinder between the foundation gripper and the base frame, wherein the second gripper cylinder is configured to move, allow to move, dampen or constrain the foundation gripper with respect to the base frame in a translation direction parallel to the deck. In the first mode the second gripper cylinder can moveably suspend the foundation gripper from the base frame and in the second mode can fixedly suspend and/or dampen the foundation gripper with respect to the base frame.

In an embodiment the second suspension comprises a third gripper cylinder between the foundation gripper and the base frame, wherein the third gripper cylinder is configured to move, allow to move, dampen or constrain the foundation gripper with respect to the base frame in a rotation direction around a vertical axis. In the first mode the third gripper cylinder can moveably suspend the foundation gripper from the base frame and in the second mode can fixedly suspend and/or dampen the foundation gripper with respect to the base frame.

In an embodiment in the first mode of the installation device the gripper cylinder is unlocked to have a variable length between the base frame and the foundation gripper, and in the second mode of the installation device the gripper cylinder is locked to have a fixed length between the base frame and the foundation gripper .

In an embodiment in the first mode of the installation device the gripper cylinder is configured to dampen or absorb the motions of the foundation gripper with respect to the base frame.

In an embodiment the upending installation comprises a main upending frame that is hingeably connected to the base frame and an alignment frame that supports the tower and that is hingeably connected to the main upending frame, wherein the main upending frame is hingeable around the horizontal first axis and the alignment frame is hingeable around a horizontal fourth axis to jointly hinge between the transport position for the tower and the upended position of the tower.

The main upending frame upends the tower to a position close to vertical. This requires a high upending capacity as the weight of the wind turbine assembly is for a large part supported by the upending device. When the tower is in the close to vertical position the main part of the weight is supported by the foundation. Therefore the required alignment capacity is much lower compared to the upending capacity. Lighter equipment can be operated more precisely which is beneficial when aligning the tower to the foundation.

In an embodiment the fourth axis is parallel to the first axis .

In an embodiment the fourth axis coincides with the first axis .

In an embodiment in the upended position of the upending installation frame the main upending frame has a first rotation angle with respect to the base frame, and the alignment frame has a second rotation angle with respect to the main upending frame.

In an embodiment the first rotation angle is larger than the second rotation angle.

In an embodiment the first rotation angle is between 70 and 90 degrees and the second rotation angle is between 20 and 0 degrees.

In an embodiment the upending installation comprises at least one alignment cylinder between the main upending frame and the alignment frame, wherein in the upended position of the upending installation the alignment cylinder is configured to compensate for residual motions between the foundation and the main upending frame. When the residual motions of the tower resulting from the wave induced motions of the vessel are compensated the tower is steady with respect to the foundation. As a result the tower and the foundation can be aligned more easily. The connection between the tower and the foundation can be made faster and in a more safe manner. The alignment cylinder can, together with the support cylinders of the first suspension, be part of the motion compensation system to compensate all wave induced motions in all six degrees of freedom .

According to a second aspect, the invention provides a method for installing a wind turbine assembly onto a wind turbine foundation in a sea by means of a vessel with an installation device, wherein the wind turbine assembly comprises at least a tower with a tower base to be installed onto the foundation, and wherein the vessel comprises a floating hull with a deck, and wherein the installation device comprises a base frame, a first suspension between the deck and the base frame that supports the base frame, and an upending installation that supports the tower of the wind turbine assembly, wherein the upending installation is hingeably connected to the base frame for hinging with respect to the base frame around a horizontal first axis, wherein the installation device is switchable between a first mode and a second mode, wherein in the first mode the base frame is fixedly supported on the deck by the first suspension, and wherein in the second mode the base frame is moveably supported on the deck by the first suspension, and the upending installation is hingeable around the first axis for tilting the tower with respect to the foundation around a horizontal second axis between a transport position for the tower and an upended position of the tower in which the tower base is positioned above the foundation,

wherein the method comprises sailing the vessel to the foundation, in the first mode of the installation device allowing the base frame to move with respect to the foundation and fixedly supporting the base frame on the deck by the first suspension, switching from the first mode to the second mode of the installation device, and in the second mode allowing the base frame to hinge with respect to the foundation around a horizontal third axis parallel to the first axis and moveably supporting the base frame on the deck by the first suspension, and hinging the upending installation around the first axis for tilting the tower around the second axis between the transport position for the tower and the upended position of the tower for positioning the tower base above the foundation. The method and its embodiments relate to the practical implementation of the vessel with the installation device according to the aforementioned embodiment and thus have the same technical advantages, which will not be repeated hereafter.

In an embodiment the installation device comprises a foundation gripper for gripping the foundation, and a second suspension between the foundation gripper and the base frame that supports the foundation gripper beyond the deck, wherein in the first mode of the installation device the foundation gripper is fixedly connected to the foundation, and the base frame is moveable with respect to the foundation gripper by means of the second suspension, and wherein in the second mode of the installation device the base frame is hingeable with respect to the foundation gripper around the horizontal third axis by means of the second suspension,

wherein in the method the vessel is moved towards the foundation to receive the foundation in the foundation gripper, and the foundation is subsequently fixedly gripped by the foundation gripper, and wherein in the second mode of the installation device the base frame hinges with respect to the foundation gripper around the third axis.

In an embodiment the first suspension comprises at least one support cylinder between the base frame and the deck, wherein the method furthermore comprises in the first mode of the installation device locking the at least one support cylinder to have a fixed length between the base frame and the deck, and in the second mode of the installation device unlocking the at least one support cylinder to have a variable length between the base frame and the deck.

In an embodiment the at least one support cylinder is configured to dampen or absorb the motions of the base frame with respect to the deck, wherein the method furthermore comprises in the second mode of the installation device dampening or absorbing the motions of the base frame with respect to the deck.

In an embodiment the second suspension comprises at least one gripper cylinder between the base frame and the foundation gripper, wherein the method furthermore comprises in the first mode of the installation device unlocking the at least one gripper cylinder to have a variable length between the base frame and the foundation gripper, and in the second mode of the installation device locking the at least one gripper cylinder to have a fixed length between the base frame and the foundation gripper.

In an embodiment the at least one gripper cylinder is configured to dampen or absorb the motions of the foundation gripper with respect to base frame, wherein the method furthermore comprises in the first mode of the installation device dampening or absorbing the motions of the foundation gripper with respect to the base frame.

In an embodiment the upending installation comprises a main upending frame that is hingeably connected to the base frame and an alignment frame that supports the tower and that is hingeably connected to the main upending frame, wherein the main upending frame is hingeable around the horizontal first axis and the alignment frame is hingeable around a horizontal fourth axis to jointly hinge between the transport position for the tower and the upended position of the tower, wherein the method furthermore comprises hinging the main upending frame around the first axis and hinging the alignment frame around the fourth axis for jointly tilting the tower around the second axis between the transport position for the tower and the upended position of the tower for positioning the tower base above the foundation.

In an embodiment the upending installation comprises at least one alignment cylinder between the main upending frame and the alignment frame, wherein the alignment cylinder is configured to compensate for residual motions between the foundation and the main upending frame, wherein the method furthermore comprises in the upended position of the upending installation compensating the residual motions between the foundation and the main upending frame.

The various aspects and features described and shown in the specification can be applied, individually, wherever possible. These individual aspects, in particular the aspects and features described in the attached dependent claims, can be made subject of divisional patent applications .

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will be elucidated on the basis of an exemplary embodiment shown in the attached drawings, in which :

Figures 1A and IB are isometric views of a vessel with an installation device for the installation of a wind turbine assembly according to an embodiment of the invention;

Figures 2A and 2B are a side view and a top view of a simplified representation of the installation device of figure 1;

Figures 3A and 3B are a side view and a top view of a simplified representation of a foundation gripper of the installation device of figure 1; and

Figures 4A-4F show steps of a wind turbine assembly installation method according to the invention using the installation device of figure 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Figures 1A and IB show a vessel 1 with an installation device 20 according to an embodiment of the invention for the installation of wind turbine assemblies 11. The installation device 20 is shown in an upright position without the wind turbine assembly 11 that is to be installed for illustrative purposes only. The vessel 1 is in this embodiment a barge comprising a hull 2 and a deck 3 that supports the installation device 20. The vessel floats in a sea 200 near an offshore wind turbine foundation 10 with a vertical longitudinal first central axis P. The foundation 10 has been installed in an earlier phase. The foundation 10 may be fixed to the seabed or may be floating in the sea 200.

An example of the wind turbine assembly 11 that is to be installed is best shown in figure 4E . In this example the wind turbine assembly 11 comprises a tower 12 with a tower base and a longitudinal second central axis Q, a nacelle 13 attached on the tower 12, a hub 14 on the nacelle 13 and blades 15 projecting from the hub 14. It is to be understood that the wind turbine assembly 11 may have different compositions. For logistic purposes the wind turbine assembly 11 may for instance omit the blades 15 or the wind turbine assembly 11 may only comprise the tower 12.

An imaginary fixed coordinate system is defined having a horizontal X-axis, a horizontal Y-axis perpendicular to the X-axis, and a vertical Z-axis perpendicular to the X-axis and the Y-axis. Translational directions or motions are referred to as X, Y, Z motions or directions and rotational motions or directions are referred to as rotations around these axes. The coordinate system is fixed with respect to the foundation 10 while the vessel 1 may move with respect to the coordinate system under the influence of waves, wind, currents and other external influences. To explain the invention, the installation device 20 is hereafter described in a neutral position wherein the deck 3 of the barge is parallel to the X-axis and the Y-axis, the longitudinal direction of the vessel 1 is parallel to the X-axis, and the part of the installation device 20 above the deck 3 is substantially parallel to the deck 3. It is to be understood that the coordinate system is used for reference and is not meant to limit the scope of the invention.

As best shown in figures 1A and IB the installation device 20 comprises an elongated horizontal base frame 21. The base frame 21 is U-shaped with the open side facing upwards, away from the deck 3. The base frame 21 comprises two side girders 27 and multiple cross beams 28 that connect the side girders 27 parallel to and spaced apart from each other.

The base frame 21 comprises a first end 29 that extends beyond the deck 3 above the sea 200 and an opposite second end 39 above the deck 3. The installation device 20 furthermore comprises a fixed cantilevered deck support 22 on the deck 3 near the second end 39 of the base frame 21, a vertical pendulum 23 that is hingeably connected between the second end 39 of the base frame 21 and the deck support

22, two horizontal first support cylinders 24 that are hingeably connected between the base frame 21 and the deck support 22, two vertical second support cylinders 25 that are hingeably connected between the base frame 21 and the deck 3 at either side of the base frame 21 near the first end 29 thereof and near the edge of the deck 3, and a diagonal third support cylinder 26 that is hingeably connected between the deck 3 and the base frame 21 near the first end 29 thereof and near the edge of the deck 3.

As best shown in figures 2A and 2B the pendulum

23, the deck support 22, the first support cylinders 24, the second support cylinders 25 and the third support cylinder 26 together form a dynamic first suspension that supports the base frame 21 on the deck 3 of the vessel 1. The first suspension suspends the base frame 21 above the deck 3 while allowing it to translate with respect to the deck 3 in a direction F parallel to the X-axis and a direction G parallel to the Y-axis and allowing it to rotate with respect to the deck 3 in a direction H around the Y-axis, a direction I around the Z-axis and around the X-axis within the range of the pendulum. The first suspension can be an active motion compensation system.

As shown in figures 1A and IB the installation device 20 comprises a circular foundation gripper 30 at the first end 29 of the base frame 21. The foundation gripper 30 comprises a semicircular foundation receiver 31, and four quarter circular foundation gripper arms 32 that are, in pairs, hingeably connected to either end of the foundation receiver 31. The gripper arms 32 are hingeable between an open position wherein the gripper arms 32 are hinged away from the foundation receiver 31 as to receive or release the foundation 10, and a closed position wherein the distal ends of opposite gripper arms 32 meet and the gripper arms 32 with the foundation receiver 31 encircle and fixedly engage the foundation 10. The foundation receiver 31 and/or the gripper arms 32 may comprise not shown gripper pads that increase the friction between the foundation gripper 30 and the foundation 10 to provide a secure fixed engagement of the foundation 10.

As best shown in figures 3A and 3B the installation device 20 furthermore comprises two vertical first gripper cylinders 33 between the first end 29 of the base frame 21 and either end of the foundation receiver 31, two horizontal second gripper cylinders 34 between the base frame 21 and either end of the foundation receiver 31, and two diagonal third gripper cylinders 35 between the base frame 21 and the foundation receiver 31. The first gripper cylinders 33, the second gripper cylinders 34, and the third gripper cylinders 35 together form a dynamic second suspension that suspends the foundation gripper 30 from the base frame 21.

The two first gripper cylinders 33 suspend the foundation gripper 30 from the base frame 21 above the sea 200. The two second gripper cylinders 34 and the two third gripper cylinders 35 space the foundation gripper 30 apart from the base frame 21 and therewith from the vessel 1. The foundation gripper 30 is hingeable with respect to the base frame 21 and therewith to the vessel 1 in a direction T around a first hinge axis E (third axis in the claims) that is parallel to the horizontal Y-axis. The first gripper cylinders 33 are configured to move, allow to move, dampen or constrain the foundation gripper 30 with respect to the base frame 21 in a direction M parallel to the vertical Z- axis. The two second gripper cylinders 34 and the two third gripper cylinders 35 are configured to move, allow to move, dampen or constrain the foundation gripper 30 with respect to the base frame 21 in a direction K parallel to the X- axis and a direction L parallel to the Y-axis and to rotate in a direction N around the Z-axis.

The installation device 20 is switchable between a first mode, a second mode and a transfer mode. In the first mode the first support cylinders 24, the second support cylinders 25 and the third support cylinder 26 are locked, i.e. have a fixed length, and the base frame 21 has a fixed orientation with respect to the vessel 1. In the second mode the first, second and third support cylinders 24, 25, 26 are unlocked, i.e. are allowed to have a variable length, and the base frame 21 is allowed to move with respect to the vessel 1. In the transfer mode the first second and third support cylinders 24, 25, 26 are gradually transferred from the locked mode to the unlocked mode, or vice versa, and the dynamic resistance and/or mechanical impedance of the first, second and third support cylinders 24, 25, 26 is gradually adjusted.

In the first mode of the installation device 20 the first gripper cylinders 33, the second gripper cylinders 34 and the third gripper cylinders 35 are unlocked, i.e. have a variable length, and the foundation gripper 30 is allowed to move with respect to the base frame 21, in the second mode of the installation device 20 the first, second and third gripper cylinders 33, 34, 35 are locked, i.e. have a fixed length, and the foundation gripper 30 has a fixed orientation with respect to the base frame 21, and in the transfer mode of the installation device the first, second and third gripper cylinders 33, 34, 35 are gradually transferred from the first mode to the second mode, or vice versa, and the dynamic resistance and/or mechanical impedance of the first, second and third gripper cylinders 33, 34, 35 is gradually adjusted.

As shown in figures 2A and 2B the installation device 20 comprises an upending installation 60 that comprises an elongated main upending frame 40 and an elongated alignment frame 50. The main upending frame 40 has a notional third central axis R. The main upending frame 40 is at one end thereof hingeably connected to the base frame 21 near the first end 29 thereof. The main upending frame 40 is hingeable with respect to the base frame 21 around a second hinge axis C (first axis in the claims) that is parallel to the horizontal Y-axis. The main upending frame 40 is hingeable between a transport position wherein the third central axis R of the main upending frame 40 is substantially parallel to the horizontal X-axis, and an upended position wherein the third central axis R has a first rotation angle with respect to the horizontal X- axis between 70 and 90 degrees, preferably a first rotation angle between 75 and 85 degrees, more preferably a first rotation angle of 80 degrees.

The installation device 20 furthermore comprises two upending rods 41 that are hingeably connected to the base frame 21, two actuators 42 that are hingeably connected to the main upending frame 40 and that are connected to and movable along each rod 41, and a first cradle 43 attached to the main upending frame 40 at the end near the deck support 22. In this example the actuators 42 are embodied as pin and hole jacking systems wherein the actuators 42 move the upending rods 41 along the longitudinal axis thereof, thereby moving the main upending frame 40 between the transport position and the upright position. The upending rods 41 are disconnectable from the base frame 21. When disconnected from the base frame 21 the upending rods 41 are secured in a horizontal position along the main upending frame 40.

The elongated alignment frame 50 has a notional fourth central axis S. The alignment frame 50 is at one end thereof hingeably connected to the main upending frame 40 and comprises a lower tower gripper 52 that is movably attached to the alignment frame 50 near the first end 29 of the base frame, an upper tower gripper 53 that is attached to the alignment frame 50 near a second opposite end thereof, two lower tower gripper arms 55 that are hingeably connected to either side of the lower tower gripper 52, and two upper tower gripper arms 56 that are hingeably connected to either side of the upper tower gripper 53. The lower and upper tower gripper arms 55, 56 are hingeable between an open position wherein the lower and upper tower gripper arms 55, 56 are hinged away from the respective lower and upper tower grippers 52, 53 as to receive or release the tower 12 of the wind turbine assembly 11, and a closed position wherein the distal ends of opposite lower and upper tower gripper arms 55, 56 meet and the lower and upper tower gripper arms 55, 56 with the respective lower and upper tower grippers 52, 53 encircle and engage the tower 12. The lower and upper tower grippers 52, 53 and/or the respective lower and upper tower gripper arms 55, 56 may comprise not shown gripper pads that increase the friction between the lower and upper tower grippers 52, 53, the respective lower and upper tower gripper arms 55, 56 and the tower 12 to provide a secure fixed engagement therebetween. The alignment frame 50 supports and engages the tower 12 of the wind turbine assembly 11 wherein the second central axis Q of the tower 12 and the fourth central axis S of the alignment frame 50 are substantially parallel to each other.

The alignment frame 50 is hingeable with respect to the main upending frame 40 around a third hinge axis D (fourth axis in the claims) that is parallel to the horizontal Y-axis and that, in this example, coincides with the second hinge axis C. The alignment frame 50 is hingeable between a standby position wherein the fourth central axis S of the alignment frame 50 is substantially parallel to the third central axis R of the main upending frame 40, and an aligned position wherein a second rotation angle b between the fourth central axis S and the third central axis R is between 0 and 20 degrees, preferably between 5 and 15 degrees, more preferably equal to 10 degrees. When the main upending frame 40 is in the upended position and the alignment frame 50 is in the aligned position the fourth central axis S is substantially parallel to the first central axis P of the foundation 10 and the second central axis Q of the tower 12 coincides with the first central axis P.

When the main upending frame 40 hinges around the second hinge axis C and the alignment frame 50 hinges around the third hinge axis D they jointly tilt the tower 12 around a tower tilting axis A (second axis in the claims) between the transport position for the tower 12 and the upended position of the tower 12 for positioning the tower 12 above the foundation 10. In this example the tower tilting axis A coincides with the second hinge axis C and the third hinge axis D. During installation of the wind turbine assembly 11 the weight thereof is at least partly supported by the foundation 10. The weight is distributed between the foundation 10 and the deck support 22. The first support cylinders 24, the second support cylinders 25 and the third support cylinder 26, as part of the active motion compensation system, may provide additional support and motion compensation with respect to the deck 3. In this example the motions in five degrees of freedom are compensated. Only motions of the tower 12 with respect to the hull 2 around the tower tilting axis A remain uncompensated by these components.

The installation device 20 furthermore comprises two first alignment cylinders 51 that are hingeably connected between the main upending frame 40 and the alignment frame 50. The first alignment cylinders 51 are configured to move the alignment frame 50 between the standby position and the aligned position. The first alignment cylinders 51 are further configured to compensate the residual motions of the upending frame 40 around the tower tilting axis A, as part of the active motion compensation system. As a result the motions of the tower 12 with respect to the hull 2 in all six degrees of freedom are compensated, in particular also around the tower tilting axis A. The first alignment cylinders 51 move the alignment frame 50 with respect to the main upending frame 40 in the X and Y direction, as a result the second rotation angle b varies up to plus and minus 10 degrees. Hereby the relative motions between the foundation 10 and the wind turbine assembly 11 caused by the wave induced motions of the vessel 1 are reduced to a minimum so that the wind turbine assembly 11 can be installed onto the foundation 10 in a safe manner.

The installation device 20 comprises two second alignment cylinders 54 between the main upending frame 40 and the lower tower gripper 52 for moving the lower tower gripper 52 along the alignment frame 50 in the Z-direction parallel to the fourth central axis S. The upper tower gripper 53 may be movably attached to the alignment frame 50 to move with the tower 12 when lowered. The lower tower gripper 52 and the upper tower gripper 53 may also be mechanically or structurally interconnected so that they move jointly with respect to the alignment frame 50. The second alignment cylinders 54 are configured to lower the lower tower gripper 52, and therewith to lower the aligned tower 12 onto the foundation 10. The lower tower gripper 52 is configured to translate with respect to the base frame 21 in the X and Y directions and to rotate around the Z- axis to accurately align the tower base of the tower 12 with the top of the foundation 10. Typically the tower base and the top of the foundation 10 will comprise corresponding flanges that are connected to each other by multiple bolted connections. The lower tower gripper 52 is used to align the corresponding flanges and the bolt holes therein .

The first support cylinders 24, the second support cylinders 25, the third support cylinders 26, the first gripper cylinders 33, the second gripper cylinders 34, the third gripper cylinders 35, the first alignment cylinders 51, and the second alignment cylinders 54 are hydraulic cylinders that are, together with the actuators 42 of the upending rods 41, connected to a not shown hydraulic power pack via a not shown hydraulic controller of the installation device 20. The hydraulic controller is configured to hydraulically switch between the first mode, the second mode and the transfer mode of the installation device 20, to perform the active motion compensation and to control the dynamic resistance and/or mechanical impedance of the components.

The first support cylinders 24, the second support cylinders 25, the third support cylinders 26, the first gripper cylinders 33, the second gripper cylinders 34, the third gripper cylinders 35, the first alignment cylinders 51, the second alignment cylinders 54, and the actuators 42 can also be hydraulically switched and/or controlled by the hydraulic controller independent of the mode of the installation device 20.

In an alternative not shown embodiment of the invention the installation device 20 omits the foundation gripper 30. The base of the tower 12 is directly hingeably connected to the top of the foundation 10. The tower 12 is tiltable around tilting axis A that is located on the top of the foundation. During installation of the wind turbine assembly 11 the weight thereof is at least partly supported by the foundation 10.

The installation sequence of installing the wind turbine assembly 11 on the offshore wind turbine foundation 10 is shown in figures 4A-F . Prior to this sequence the wind turbine assembly 11 is loaded onto the installation device 20 by lowering it onto the first cradle 43, the lower tower gripper 52 and the upper tower gripper 53 in a substantially horizontal transport position in which it is orientated parallel to the X-axis and in which the second central axis Q of the tower 12 is substantially parallel to the third central axis R of the main upending frame 40 and the fourth central axis S of the alignment frame 50. The center of gravity of the wind turbine assembly 11 is positioned substantially above the pendulum 23 so that the weight of the wind turbine assembly 11 is mainly transferred to the deck 3 through the via the pendulum 23 and the deck support 22 to the deck 3 thereby keeping the first support cylinders 24, the second support cylinders 25 and the third support cylinders 26 mainly unloaded. The lower tower gripper arms 55 and the upper tower gripper arms 56 are in the closed position engaged around and fixedly gripping the tower 12.

Subsequently the vessel 1 sails or is sailed from the loading location to the foundation 10. The vessel 1 is then maneuvered to near the foundation 10 using a positioning system. The vessel 1 is positioned such that the foundation gripper 30 in its open position is close to the foundation 10 as shown in figure 4A. The installation device 20 is in the first mode with the first support cylinders 24, the second support cylinders 25 and the third support cylinder 26 locked so that the base frame 21, and therewith the wind turbine assembly 11, has a fixed orientation with respect to the vessel 1 and moves along with the wave induced motions of the vessel 1.

As shown in figure 4B subsequently the vessel 1 moves or is moved towards the foundation 10 so that the opened foundation gripper 30 receives the foundation 10. The gripper arms 32 of the foundation gripper 30 are then closed around the foundation 10 and the foundation gripper 30 engages and fixedly grips the foundation 10. The first gripper cylinders 33, the second gripper cylinders 34 and the third gripper cylinders 35 are or remain unlocked so that the base frame 21, and therewith the wind turbine assembly 11, can move with the vessel 1 with respect to the foundation gripper 30 that is fixed to the foundation 10.

Subsequently the installation device 20 is switched from the first mode, via the transfer mode to the second mode. The first support cylinders 24, the second support cylinders 25 and the third support cylinder 26 are unlocked by gradually reducing their resistance whereby the base frame 21 is gradually allowed to move with respect to the vessel 1 within the range of the pendulum 23. Simultaneously the first gripper cylinders 33, the second gripper cylinders 34 and the third gripper cylinders 35 are locked by gradually increasing their resistance. Therewith the relative motions of the foundation gripper 30 with respect to the base frame 21 are gradually reduced until the first gripper cylinders 33, the second gripper cylinders 34 and the third gripper cylinders 35 are completely locked and the translational motions in the X, Y and Z directions and the rotational motions around the X- axis and the Z-axis of the foundation gripper 30 with respect to the base frame 21 are substantially equal to zero. In the second mode the base frame 21 is only rotatable with respect to the foundation gripper 30 around the first hinge axis E in direction T. The base frame 21 is now mainly suspended by the first gripper cylinders 33 that are supported by the foundation 10 via the foundation gripper 30, and the pendulum 23 that is suspended from the deck support 22 on the vessel 1. The base frame 21 hinges relative to the foundation 10 around the first hinge axis E as a result of the motions of the vessel 1. The first support cylinders 24, the second support cylinders 25 and the third support cylinder 26 dampen the relative motions of the vessel 1 with respect to the base frame 21 without supporting or supporting only a small portion of the weight of the wind turbine assembly 11.

As shown in figures 4C and 4D subsequently the upending rods 41 are upended and connected to the base frame 21. The actuators 42 then move upwards along the upending rod 41 therewith moving the main upending frame 40 from the transport position parallel to the X-axis, to the upended position. In this example in the upended position the first rotation angle is 80 degrees.

As shown in figure 4E subsequently the first alignment cylinders 51 move the alignment frame from the standby position wherein the fourth central axis S of the alignment frame 50 is substantially parallel to the third central axis R of the main upending frame 40, to the aligned position wherein in this example the second rotation angle b between the fourth central axis S and the third central axis R is 10 degrees. During this step the main upending frame 40 can rotate only around the first hinge axis E as a result of the motions of the vessel 1. The first alignment cylinders 51 can compensate for these residual motions of the main upending frame 40 with respect to the foundation 10 by moving the alignment frame 50 with respect to the main upending frame 40. The first alignment cylinders 51 only bear a small part of the weight of the wind turbine assembly 11. As the tower 12 is close to an upright position the main part of the weight is supported by the foundation 10.

As shown in figures 4E and 4F the alignment frame 50 holds the tower 12 in an aligned position with respect to the foundation 10 wherein the first central axis P of the foundation 10 and the second central axis Q of the tower 12 substantially coincide. The second alignment cylinders 54 lower the tower 12 towards and onto the foundation 10. Prior to, during or after lowering of the tower 12 the lower tower gripper 52 is used to accurately align the base of the tower 12 with the top of the foundation 10 in order to make the final connection therebetween. For instance to align the bolt holes of corresponding flanges and to install the bolted connections therebetween .

When the final connection of the tower 12 to the foundation 10 is established the lower tower gripper arms 55 and the upper tower gripper arms 56 are opened and the alignment frame 50 is moved back to the standby position therewith releasing the tower 12 from the upper tower gripper 52 and the lower tower gripper 53.

Subsequently the steps for installing the wind turbine assembly 11 onto the foundation 10 are performed in the reversed order. First the main upending frame 40 is lowered back to the transport position. Subsequently the upending rods 41 are lowered and released from the base frame 21. Subsequently the installation device 20 is switched from the second mode, via the transfer mode to the first mode wherein the base frame 21 moves with the vessel 1 with respect to the foundation gripper 30 that is fixed to the foundation 10. Subsequently the foundation gripper 30 is opened and the vessel 1 moves or is moved away from the foundation 10 as to release it from the foundation gripper 30. Subsequently the vessel 1 sails or is sailed from the foundation 10 to the loading location to load a next wind turbine assembly 11 onto the installation device 20. When the wind turbine assembly 11 is loaded onto the installation device 20 the above described sequence is repeated at a next foundation 10.

It is to be understood that the above description is included to illustrate the operation of the preferred embodiments and is not meant to limit the scope of the invention. From the above discussion, many variations will be apparent to one skilled in the art that would yet be encompassed by the scope of the present invention.