(19)
(11)EP 3 317 530 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
03.06.2020 Bulletin 2020/23

(21)Application number: 16818339.0

(22)Date of filing:  27.06.2016
(51)Int. Cl.: 
F03D 13/25  (2016.01)
F03D 9/25  (2016.01)
H02K 7/18  (2006.01)
H02K 7/102  (2006.01)
F03D 3/06  (2006.01)
F03D 80/50  (2016.01)
F03D 7/06  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/SE2016/050635
(87)International publication number:
WO 2017/003355 (05.01.2017 Gazette  2017/01)

(54)

FLOATING WIND ENERGY HARVESTING APPARATUS WITH REPLACEABLE ENERGY CONVERTER

SCHWIMMENDE WINDENERGIEGEWINNUNGSVORRICHTUNG MIT AUSWECHSELBAREM ENERGIEWANDLER

APPAREIL FLOTTANT DE RÉCOLTE D'ÉNERGIE ÉOLIENNE À MAINTENANCE AMÉLIORÉE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 02.07.2015 SE 1550937

(43)Date of publication of application:
09.05.2018 Bulletin 2018/19

(73)Proprietor: Seatwirl AB
411 26 Göteborg (SE)

(72)Inventor:
  • EHRNBERG, Daniel
    305 72 Steninge (SE)

(74)Representative: Kransell & Wennborg KB 
P.O. Box 27834
115 93 Stockholm
115 93 Stockholm (SE)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 2 080 899
EP-A1- 2 597 027
WO-A1-2010/120182
WO-A2-2013/092362
US-A1- 2010 232 965
US-A1- 2011 133 474
EP-A1- 2 080 899
EP-A1- 2 716 908
WO-A1-2012/058284
JP-A- 2013 029 101
US-A1- 2010 253 084
  
  • WILLY TJIU ET AL.: 'Darrieus vertical axis wind turbine for power generation 1: Assessment of Darrieus VAWT configurations' RENEWABLE ENERGY vol. 75, March 2015, pages 50 - 67, XP029097350
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description

Field of the Invention



[0001] The present invention relates to a floating wind energy harvesting apparatus for offshore installation, and to a maintenance method for the floating wind energy harvesting apparatus.

Background of the Invention



[0002] Wind energy has long been known to be a clean and safe form of energy. Recently, the use of wind turbines for generating electricity has increased. Most of the generated electricity comes from land-based wind turbines.

[0003] However, it is sometimes difficult to find good locations on land for new wind turbines, and it is known that the wind at sea is stronger and more consistent than the wind over land. On the other hand, offshore wind turbines have to be able to withstand considerably harsher conditions and have so far been found to be more difficult and costly to install and to access for maintenance.

[0004] Therefore, much effort has been spent on developing wind turbines suitable for offshore use.

[0005] Since the establishment of reliable and cost-efficient wind turbine foundations in offshore locations in particular has been found to be a major challenge, one approach has been to develop floating wind turbines for offshore use.

[0006] A particularly interesting development is floating vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs), in which the floating turbine body of the VAWT rotates in the water, effectively using the water as a kind of bearing.

[0007] This approach, which practically obviates the need for the above-mentioned costly and complicated building of wind turbine foundations and provides for a robust and relatively cost-efficient construction, is described in WO 2011/008153, NL 1035026 and EP 2 080 899.

[0008] However, as for all offshore wind turbines, maintenance is still expected to be challenging, particularly for very large wind turbines. Thus, there appears to be room for improvement. In particular, it would be desirable to provide for facilitated maintenance of a floating vertical axis wind turbine of the type described in WO 2011/008153, NL 1035026 and EP 2 080 899.

Summary



[0009] In view of the above-mentioned and other drawbacks of the prior art, it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved floating wind energy harvesting apparatus, and in particular to provide for facilitated maintenance of such a wind energy harvesting apparatus.

[0010] According to a first aspect of the present invention, it is therefore provided a floating wind energy harvesting apparatus for offshore installation, the wind energy harvesting apparatus comprising: an elongated wind turbine body extending along a longitudinal wind turbine body axis, the wind turbine body comprising a lower body portion to be mainly below a water surface when the wind energy harvesting apparatus is in operation and an upper body portion to be mainly above the water surface when the wind energy harvesting apparatus is in operation; at least one blade attached to the upper body portion for converting wind energy to rotation of the wind turbine body around the longitudinal wind turbine body axis; and an energy converter attached to the wind turbine body for converting the rotation of the wind turbine body to electrical energy, the energy converter comprising a first energy converter part coupled to the turbine body for rotating in response to rotation of the wind turbine body, and a second energy converter part to be kept relatively stationary in relation to the wind turbine body, the resulting rotation of the first energy converter part in relation to the second energy converter part being converted to electrical energy by the energy converter, wherein the energy converter is attached to the wind turbine body by means of a first releasable mechanical coupling between the first energy converter part and the lower body portion of the wind turbine body, and a second releasable mechanical coupling between the first energy converter part and the upper body portion of the wind turbine body.

[0011] It should be understood that each of the upper body portion and the lower body portion may in turn be formed from a plurality of portions, which may perform different functions. For instance, the lower body portion may comprise a buoyancy-providing portion and a ballast portion (a weight) for keeping the wind energy harvesting apparatus floating generally upright, with the longitudinal wind turbine body axis thus being generally vertical. Naturally, the action of wind and/or waves may typically cause the orientation of the longitudinal wind turbine body axis to fluctuate, and to deviate from the vertical direction.

[0012] Regarding the above-mentioned buoyancy-providing portion and ballast portion, these portions may advantageously be spaced apart as far as possible, to separate the center of buoyancy and center of mass. This arrangement provides for stable operation of the wind energy harvesting apparatus.

[0013] That the lower body portion is to be mainly below the water surface should be understood to mean that more than half of the length of the lower body portion is to be below the water surface. Analogously, more than half of the length of the upper body portion is to be above the water surface.

[0014] The upper body portion and the lower body portion may advantageously be rigidly connected via the first energy converter part, so that one revolution of the upper body portion results in one revolution of the lower body portion.

[0015] The energy converter may advantageously be a generator/motor, and one of the first energy converter part and the second energy converter part may comprise at least one magnet, and the other one of the first and second energy converter parts may comprise at least one coil, so that rotation of the first energy converter part in relation to the second energy converter part results in the conductor of the at least one coil moving through the magnetic field generated by the at least one magnet.

[0016] Advantageously, the first energy converter part may comprise the at least one magnet, and the second energy converter part may comprise the at least one coil, to facilitate conduction of electrical current from and to the energy converter. Alternatively, one or several generator/motors may be comprised in one of the first energy converter part and the second energy converter part, and may be driven (when in generator mode) by the relative rotation between the first and second energy converter parts. For example, one or several generator/motors may be attached to the second energy converter part and driven (when in generator mode) by a pinion on the first energy converter part.

[0017] An arm may be connected to the second energy converter part to allow mechanical coupling of the second energy converter part to an anchoring arrangement or a braking arrangement, in order to achieve the desired relative rotation between the first energy converter part and the second energy converter part.

[0018] The above-mentioned electrical current may be conducted from or to the energy converter in a conductor, which may extend along the above-mentioned arm.

[0019] Furthermore, the energy converter may comprise a control unit for controlling operation of the wind energy harvesting apparatus. For instance, the control unit may be configured to control the energy converter to alternate between functioning as a generator and functioning as a motor. In addition, the control unit may be configured to control one or several actuator(s), which may be arranged in the lower body portion and/or the upper body portion.

[0020] To allow a control unit comprised in the energy converter to control operation of one or several actuator(s) arranged in the lower body portion and/or the upper body portion, the wind energy harvesting apparatus may further comprise a releasable electrical coupling for electrical signals between the energy converter and at least one of the lower body portion and upper body portion. Examples of possible actuators could be a pump provided in the lower body portion and blade pitch control actuators in the upper body portion for controlling a pitch of the at least one blade.

[0021] That the first and second mechanical couplings are releasable should be understood to mean that the first and second mechanical couplings can be disengaged and reengaged. For instance, each of the first and second mechanical couplings can be achieved using at least one removable and reusable fastener.

[0022] The present invention is based upon the realization that maintenance of the floating wind energy harvesting apparatus can be made easier and safer by collecting functionalities that are likely to need replacement and/or maintenance in a modular unit that can relatively easily be detached and removed from the rest of the apparatus on site. The present inventor has further realized that this can be achieved by providing a lower body portion and an upper body portion, and releasably mechanically coupling the upper and lower body portions via an energy converter, and in particular via a first energy converter part that rotates together with the lower and upper wind turbine body portions.

[0023] Embodiments of the present invention thus provide for simpler and safer maintenance of a floating wind energy harvesting apparatus of the VAWT type, in particular when the wind energy harvesting apparatus is very large. This in turn provides for a reduced cost per unit electrical energy produced over the life of the floating wind energy harvesting apparatus.

[0024] The floating wind energy harvesting apparatus according to embodiments of the present invention may advantageously be configured in such a way that the energy converter is arranged above the water surface when the wind energy harvesting apparatus is in operation.

[0025] This may, for instance, be achieved through suitable dimensioning of the lower and upper body portions. For example the above-mentioned buoyancy-providing portion and ballast portion that may be comprised in the lower body portion may be dimensioned in such a way that the energy converter is generally above the water surface. Naturally, the energy converter may intermittently be at least partly below the water surface, in particular in the case of large waves and strong winds.

[0026] This arrangement of the energy converter facilitates accessibility of the energy converter and reduces its exposure to sea water.

[0027] According to various embodiments, the upper body portion may comprise a first body flange; the lower body portion may comprise a second body flange; the first energy converter part may comprise a first energy converter flange and a second energy converter flange; and the first body flange may be releasably mechanically connected to the first energy converter flange, and the second body flange may be releasably mechanically connected to the second energy converter flange.

[0028] The flanges may be releasably connected to each other by means of suitable fasteners, such as bolts and nuts. Alternatively, the holes in one of the connected flanges may be threaded.

[0029] The interface between connected flanges may be planar to facilitate sliding the energy converter out from between the lower body portion and the upper body portion. Alternatively, at least one of the flange pairs may have corresponding grooves or tracks to improve the transfer of torque across the mechanical coupling formed by the flange pair.

[0030] For instance, the flange pair between the lower body portion and the energy converter may have a planar interface, and the flange pair between the upper body portion and the energy converter may have grooves and corresponding ridges fitting in the grooves to provide for a reliable transfer of torque from the upper body portion to the first energy converter part.

[0031] Generally, the first mechanical coupling and the second mechanical coupling may be configured in such a way that the energy converter is removable in a direction perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the wind turbine body when the couplings are released.

[0032] According to various embodiments, at least one of the first body flange and the second body flange may comprise a first set of holes for releasable attachment of the energy converter to the wind turbine body; and a second set of holes for temporary releasable attachment of a wind turbine body holding arrangement to the wind turbine body between the first body flange and the second body flange.

[0033] The first set of holes may be arranged closer to the longitudinal axis of the wind turbine body than the second set of holes, to facilitate attachment of the wind turbine holding arrangement to the lower and upper wind turbine body portions while the energy converter is attached between the lower and upper body portions.

[0034] According to embodiments, furthermore, the energy converter may additionally comprise a braking arrangement mechanically coupled to the first energy converter part and to the second energy converter part; and processing circuitry for controlling the braking arrangement to reduce a rotational speed of the first energy converter part in relation to the second energy converter part. The processing circuitry may, for instance, be included in a control unit for controlling other functions of the floating wind energy harvesting apparatus.

[0035] According to a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of replacing the energy converter of the floating wind energy harvesting apparatus according to various embodiments of the present invention, the method comprising the steps of: attaching a holding arrangement to the upper body portion and to the lower body portion, the holding arrangement being arranged and configured to maintain a relative arrangement of the upper body portion and the lower body portion; releasing the first releasable mechanical coupling and the second releasable mechanical coupling; reducing an axial force between the energy converter and each of the upper body portion and the lower body portion; removing the energy converter; arranging a replacement energy converter between the upper body portion and the lower body portion; attaching the replacement energy converter to the upper body portion and the lower body portion by means of the first releasable mechanical coupling and the second releasable mechanical coupling; increasing an axial force between the energy converter and each of the upper body portion and the lower body portion; detaching and removing the holding arrangement.

[0036] Before removing the energy converter, the axial force is reduced sufficiently to allow removal. Advantageously, the compressive force acting on the energy converter resulting from the mass of the upper body portion may be reduced to zero or close to zero before the energy converter is removed.

[0037] The steps of the methods according to various embodiments of the present invention need not necessarily be performed in any particular order. For instance, the axial force between the energy converter and each of the upper and lower body portions may be increased before the replacement energy converter is attached to the upper and lower body portions.

[0038] It should also be noted that the replacement energy converter may be a different energy converter or the same energy converter that was previously removed following maintenance, such as replacement of parts.

[0039] The energy converter may advantageously be removed by, at least initially, displacing the energy converter in a direction substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the wind turbine body.

[0040] Furthermore, the floating wind energy harvesting apparatus may comprise a braking arrangement for substantially preventing rotation of the wind turbine body, and the method may further comprise the step of controlling the braking arrangement to prevent rotation of the wind turbine body before attaching the holding arrangement to the upper body portion and to the lower body portion.

[0041] It should be understood that the wind turbine body may rotate slowly even though the braking arrangement is activated.

[0042] According to various embodiments, the method of the present invention may further comprise the steps of providing a floating vessel carrying the holding arrangement and the replacement energy converter; and maneuvering the vessel, in relation to the wind turbine body, in such a way that the holding arrangement becomes arranged between the upper body portion and the lower body portion. In other words, a floating vessel may suitably dock with the wind turbine body before replacing the energy converter.

[0043] The axial force between the upper and lower body parts and the energy converter may advantageously be temporarily reduced by heating the holding arrangement and/or cooling the energy converter. Alternatively, or in combination, the holding arrangement may comprise a lifting arrangement, which may, for example, utilize hydraulics for lifting the upper body portion.

[0044] In summary, according to various embodiments the present invention relates to a floating VAWT comprising a wind turbine body having a lower body portion and an upper body portion; at least one blade attached to the upper body portion for converting wind energy to rotation of the wind turbine body; and an energy converter attached to the wind turbine body for converting the rotation of the wind turbine body to electrical energy. The energy converter comprises a first energy converter part, and a second energy converter part to be kept relatively stationary in relation to the first energy converter part. The energy converter is attached to the wind turbine body by means of a first releasable mechanical coupling between the first energy converter part and the lower body portion of the wind turbine body, and a second releasable mechanical coupling between the first energy converter part and the upper body portion of the wind turbine body.

Brief Description of the Drawings



[0045] These and other aspects of the present invention will now be described in more detail, with reference to the appended drawings showing an example embodiment of the invention, wherein:

Fig 1 is a schematic perspective view of a floating wind energy harvesting apparatus according to an example embodiment of the present invention;

Fig 2 is an enlarged view of the energy converter comprised in the wind energy harvesting apparatus in fig 1 and the connection between the energy converter and the lower and upper wind turbine body portions;

Fig 3 is a flow-chart schematically illustrating an example embodiment of the method according to the present invention;

Figs 4a-b schematically shows an example of a floating vessel that may be used when carrying out the method of the flow-chart in fig 3; and

Fig 5 is a perspective view schematically illustrating the attachment of the holding arrangement to the wind turbine body prior to removing the energy converter.


Detailed Description of Example Embodiments



[0046] Fig 1 schematically illustrates a floating wind energy harvesting apparatus in the form of a floating vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) 1. In fig 1, the VAWT 1 is shown floating in the sea 2 and being exposed to wind 3.

[0047] Referring to fig 1, the VAWT 1 comprises an elongated wind turbine body extending along a longitudinal wind turbine body axis 5. As is schematically indicated in fig 1, the wind turbine body comprises a lower body portion 7 mainly arranged below the water surface 8, and an upper body portion 10 mainly arranged above the water surface 8. The VAWT 1 further comprises blades 11a-c attached to the upper body portion 10, and an energy converter 12 attached to the wind turbine body between the lower body portion 7 and the upper body portion 10.

[0048] As will be described below in further detail, the energy converter 12 comprises a first energy converter part 14 and a second energy converter part 15. The first energy converter part 14 is releasably mechanically coupled to the lower body portion 7 and the upper body portion 10 to rotate around the longitudinal wind turbine body axis 5 together with the lower 7 and upper 10 body portions. The second energy converter part 15 is coupled to an anchoring arrangement 17 via arm 18 to keep the second energy converter part 15 relatively stationary in relation to the first energy converter part 14.

[0049] As is schematically shown in fig 1, the lower body portion 7 comprises a buoyancy-providing portion 20 and a ballast portion 21 that are dimensioned to keep the VAWT 1 generally vertical and the energy converter 12 above the water surface 8.

[0050] The buoyancy-providing portion 20 may comprise a foam-filled space, making the VAWT 1 unsinkable, and a reservoir (not shown) for allowing control of the buoyancy of the VAWT 1. The reservoir may be controllably filled with water to control the level of the VAWT 1 to compensate for factors such as variations in the salt concentration in the water and organic growth on the lower body portion 7.

[0051] When the wind 3 blows as is schematically indicated in fig 1, the forces resulting from the interaction between the wind and the blades 11a-c cause the wind turbine body to rotate around the longitudinal axis 5. This in turn results in rotation of the first energy converter part 14 in relation to the second energy converter part 15. This relative rotation is converted to electrical energy.

[0052] Most parts of the VAWT 1 in fig 1 may be robust and can be made from relatively cheap and sturdy materials, such as steel and concrete, and will not be moving when in contact with anything but air or water. Therefore, most parts of the VAWT 1 are likely to be operational during the entire lifetime of the VAWT 1. However, the energy converter 12 may need maintenance or replacement at least at some time during the lifetime of the VAWT 1.

[0053] To facilitate maintenance or replacement of the energy converter 12, the first energy converter part 14 is, as was described above, releasably mechanically connected between the lower body portion 7 and the upper body portion 10.

[0054] An example of the configuration of the energy converter 12 and the mechanical connection between the energy converter 12 and the lower 7 and upper 10 body parts will now be described with reference to fig 2.

[0055] As can be seen in fig 2, the upper body portion 10 comprises a first body flange 25, the lower body portion 7 comprises a second body flange 26, and the first energy converter part 14 comprises a first energy converter flange 27 and a second energy converter flange 28.

[0056] The first body flange 25 is releasably connected to the first energy converter flange 27 by means of releasable fasteners, here in the form of bolts 30a-b and nuts 31a-b (all bolts and nuts are not visible in fig 2). In the same way, the second body flange 26 is releasably connected to the second energy converter flange 28 by means of bolts 32a-c and nuts 33a-c (all bolts and nuts are not visible in fig 2).

[0057] As is schematically indicated in fig 2, the energy converter 12 comprises electrical wiring 35 for conducting electrical current generated by the energy converter 12 from the second energy converter part 15 to a remote location.

[0058] Moreover, the energy converter 12 comprises a braking arrangement including a disc 37 attached to the first energy converter part 14, and brake calipers 38a-b attached to the second energy converter part 15. The brake calipers 38a-b are controlled by control circuitry (not shown in fig 2) included in the energy converter 12.

[0059] Having now described an example embodiment of the floating wind energy harvesting apparatus according to the present invention, a maintenance method according to an embodiment of the present invention will now be described with reference to the flow-chart in fig 3 and the illustrations in figs 4a-b and fig 5, and continued reference to fig 1 and fig 2 where applicable.

[0060] In a first step 100, a specialized maintenance vessel docks with the VAWT 1. Referring to figs 4a-b, an exemplary maintenance vessel 40 has an opening 41, a holding arrangement 42, and a crane 43 for allowing safe docking with the VAWT 1 and replacement of the energy converter 12. On the deck the vessel 40 carries replacement energy converters 45a-b.

[0061] To be able to dock the vessel 40 with the VAWT 1, the rotation of the VAWT 1 is first stopped by wirelessly sending a signal to the control unit comprised in the energy converter 12 to brake the VAWT 1 by actuating the brake calipers 38a-b. Thereafter, the vertical level of the vessel 40 is controlled using tanks (not shown in figs 4a-b) in the vessel 40 to align the holding arrangement 42 with the first 25 and second 26 body flanges of the VAWT 1.

[0062] The holding arrangement 42 is configured to allow temporary attachment to the lower 7 and upper 10 body portions of the VAWT 1, and, although not visible in figs 4a-b, additionally comprises channels for circulating hot fluid in the interior of the holding arrangement 42 to expand the holding arrangement. As is schematically indicated in figs 4a-b, the vessel 40 comprises a heating arrangement 47 for heating the fluid circulating in the interior of the holding arrangement 42.

[0063] Returning to the flow-chart in fig 3, the holding arrangement 42 is attached to the lower 7 and upper 10 wind turbine body parts in step 101. As is schematically indicated in fig 5, the holding arrangement 42 is connected to the first body flange 25 using bolts 48a-i and to the second body flange 26 using bolts 49a-i. The above-mentioned channels 50 are schematically indicated in fig 5.

[0064] It may be convenient to first arrange the holding arrangement 42 between the lower 7 and upper 10 body portions with some play, and then heat the holding arrangement to bring it in contact with the first 25 and second 26 body flanges. Thereafter, the upper 48a-i and lower 49a-i sets of bolts can be tightened.

[0065] In the next step 102, the energy converter 12 is released by removing the bolts 30a-c, 32a-c and nuts 31a-c, 33a-c attaching the energy converter 12 to the upper 10 and lower 7 body portions.

[0066] Thereafter, in step 103, the lower 7 and upper 10 body portions are separated by operating the heating arrangement 47 to circulate more hot fluid through the channels 50 in the holding arrangement 42. After the holding arrangement has expanded, the energy converter 12 is removed in step 104 using the crane 43, and placed on the deck of the vessel 40.

[0067] Subsequently, in step 105, a replacement energy converter 45a is arranged between the lower 7 and the upper 10 body portions using the crane 43.

[0068] The replacement generator 45a is attached to the lower 7 and upper 10 body portions in step 106, and the holding arrangement is then disengaged in step 107 by removing the upper 48a-i and lower 49a-i sets of bolts and allowing the holding arrangement to cool down (or actively cooling the holding arrangement) and moving the vessel 40 away from the VAWT 1.

[0069] The person skilled in the art realizes that the present invention by no means is limited to the preferred embodiments described above. On the contrary, many modifications and variations are possible within the scope of the appended claims.

[0070] In the claims, the word "comprising" does not exclude other elements or steps, and the indefinite article "a" or "an" does not exclude a plurality. A single processor or other unit may fulfill the functions of several items recited in the claims. The mere fact that certain measures are recited in mutually different dependent claims does not indicate that a combination of these measured cannot be used to advantage. Any reference signs in the claims should not be construed as limiting the scope.


Claims

1. A floating wind energy harvesting apparatus (1) for offshore installation, said wind energy harvesting apparatus comprising:

an elongated wind turbine body extending along a longitudinal wind turbine body axis (5), said wind turbine body comprising a lower body portion (7) to be mainly below a water surface (8) when the wind energy harvesting apparatus (1) is in operation and an upper body portion (10) to be mainly above the water surface when the wind energy harvesting apparatus (1) is in operation;

at least one blade (11a-c) attached to the upper body portion (10) for converting wind energy to rotation of the wind turbine body around the longitudinal wind turbine body axis (5); and

an energy converter (12) attached to said wind turbine body for converting the rotation of said wind turbine body to electrical energy,

said energy converter (12) comprising a first energy converter part (14) coupled to said turbine body for rotating in response to rotation of said wind turbine body, and a second energy converter part (15) to be kept relatively stationary in relation to said wind turbine body, the resulting rotation of said first energy converter part (14) in relation to said second energy converter part (15) being converted to electrical energy by said energy converter (12),

characterized in that said energy converter (12) is attached to said wind turbine body by means of a first releasable mechanical coupling between said first energy converter part (14) and said lower body portion (7) of the wind turbine body, and a second releasable mechanical coupling between said first energy converter part (14) and said upper body portion (10) of the wind turbine body.


 
2. The floating wind energy harvesting apparatus (1) according to claim 1, wherein said floating wind energy harvesting apparatus is configured in such a way that said energy converter (12) is arranged above the water surface (8) when the wind energy harvesting apparatus (1) is in operation.
 
3. The floating wind energy harvesting apparatus (1) according to claim 1 or 2, wherein:

said upper body portion (10) comprises a first body flange (25);

said lower body portion(7) comprises a second body flange (26);

said first energy converter part (14) comprises a first energy converter flange (27) and a second energy converter flange (28); and

said first body flange (25) is releasably connected to said first energy converter flange (27), and said second body flange (26) is releasably connected to said second energy converter flange (28).


 
4. The floating wind energy harvesting apparatus (1) according to claim 3, wherein:

said first body flange (25) is releasably connected to said first energy converter flange (27) by means of a first releasable fastening arrangement; and

said second body flange (26) is releasably connected to said second energy converter flange (28) by means of a second releasable fastening arrangement.


 
5. The floating wind energy harvesting apparatus (1) according to claim 4, wherein each of said first and second releasable fastening arrangement comprises a plurality of bolts (30a-c, 32a-c) and corresponding nuts (31a-c, 33a-c).
 
6. The floating wind energy harvesting apparatus (1) according to any one of claims 3 to 5, wherein at least one of said first body flange (25) and said second body flange (26) comprises:

a first set of holes for releasable attachment of said energy converter (12) to said wind turbine body; and

a second set of holes for temporary releasable attachment of a wind turbine body holding arrangement (42) to said wind turbine body between said first body flange (25) and said second body flange (26).


 
7. The floating wind energy harvesting apparatus (1) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said energy converter further comprises:

a braking arrangement mechanically coupled to said first energy converter part (14) and to said second energy converter part (15); and

processing circuitry for controlling said braking arrangement to reduce a rotational speed of said first energy converter part (14) in relation to said second energy converter part (15).


 
8. A method of replacing the energy converter (12) of the floating wind energy harvesting apparatus (1) according to any one of the preceding claims, said method comprising the steps of:

attaching (101) a holding arrangement (42) to said upper body portion (10) and to said lower body portion (7), said holding arrangement being arranged and configured to maintain a relative arrangement of said upper body portion and said lower body portion;

releasing (102) said first releasable mechanical coupling and said second releasable mechanical coupling;

reducing an axial force between said energy converter (12) and each of said upper body portion (10) and said lower body portion (7);

removing (104) said energy converter;

arranging (105) a replacement energy converter between said upper body portion (10) and said lower body portion (7);

attaching (106) said replacement energy converter to said upper body portion (10) and said lower body portion (7) by means of said first releasable mechanical coupling and said second releasable mechanical coupling;

increasing an axial force between said energy converter and each of said upper body portion and said lower body portion;

detaching and removing said holding arrangement.


 
9. The method according to claim 8, wherein said energy converter is removed by, at least initially, displacing (103) said energy converter in a direction substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of said wind turbine body.
 
10. The method according to claim 8 or 9, wherein said floating wind energy harvesting apparatus (1) comprises a braking arrangement for substantially preventing rotation of said wind turbine body,
said method further comprising the step of:
controlling said braking arrangement to prevent rotation of said wind turbine body before attaching said holding arrangement (42) to said upper body portion (10) and to said lower body portion (7).
 
11. The method according to any one of claims 8 to 10, further comprising the steps of:

providing a floating vessel (40) carrying said holding arrangement (42) and said replacement energy converter; and

maneuvering said vessel, in relation to said wind turbine body, in such a way that said holding arrangement (42) becomes arranged between said upper body portion (10) and said lower body portion (7).


 
12. The method according to any one of claims 8 to 11, wherein said step of reducing said axial force comprises the step of:
heating said holding arrangement (42) to expand said holding arrangement.
 
13. The method according to any one of claims 8 to 12, wherein said step of reducing said axial force comprises the step of:
cooling said holding arrangement (42) to contract said holding arrangement.
 


Ansprüche

1. Schwimmende Windenergieerzeugungsvorrichtung (1) für Offshoreinstallation, wobei die Windenergieerzeugungsvorrichtung umfasst:

einen länglichen Windturbinenkörper, der sich entlang einer Windturbinenkörperlängsachse (5) erstreckt, wobei der Windturbinenkörper einen unteren Körperabschnitt (7), der sich größtenteils unter einer Wasseroberfläche (8) befindet, wenn die Windenergieerzeugungsvorrichtung (1) in Betrieb ist, und einen oberen Körperabschnitt (10), der sich größtenteils über der Wasseroberfläche befindet, wenn die Windenergieerzeugungsvorrichtung (1) in Betrieb ist, umfasst;

mindestens eine Schaufel (11a bis c), die an dem oberen Körperabschnitt (10) befestigt ist, um Windenergie in Drehung des Windturbinenkörpers um die Windturbinenkörperlängsachse umzuwandeln (5); und

einen Energieumwandler (12), der an dem Windturbinenkörper befestigt ist, um die Drehung des Windturbinenkörpers in elektrische Energie umzuwandeln,

wobei der Energieumwandler (12) einen ersten Energieumwandlerabschnitt (14) umfasst, der mit dem Turbinenkörper gekoppelt ist, um sich in Reaktion auf den Windturbinenkörper zu drehen, und einen zweiten Energieumwandlerabschnitt (15), der relativ stationär in Beziehung zu dem Windturbinenkörper bleibt, wobei die entstehende Drehung des ersten Energieumwandlerabschnitts (14) in Beziehung zu dem zweiten Energieumwandlerabschnitt (15) durch den Energieumwandler (12) in elektrische Energie umgewandelt wird, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass

der Energieumwandler (12) mittels einer ersten trennbaren mechanischen Koppelung zwischen dem ersten Energieumwandlerabschnitt (14) und dem unteren Körperabschnitt (7) des Windturbinenkörpers, und einer zweiten trennbaren mechanischen Koppelung zwischen dem ersten Energieumwandlerabschnitt (14) und dem oberen Körperabschnitt (10) des Windturbinenkörpers an dem Windturbinenkörper befestigt ist.


 
2. Schwimmende Windenergieerzeugungsvorrichtung (1) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die schwimmende Windenergieerzeugungsvorrichtung in solcher Weise konfiguriert ist, dass der Energieumwandler (12) über der Wasseroberfläche (8) angeordnet ist, wenn die Windenergieerzeugungsvorrichtung (1) in Betrieb ist.
 
3. Schwimmende Windenergieerzeugungsvorrichtung (1) nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei:

der obere Körperabschnitt (10) einen ersten Körperflansch (25) umfasst;

der untere Körperabschnitt (7) einen zweiten Körperflansch (26) umfasst;

der erste Energieumwandlerabschnitt (14) einen ersten Energieumwandlerflansch (27) und einen zweiten Energieumwandlerflansch (28) umfasst; und

der erste Körperflansch (25) trennbar mit dem ersten Energieumwandlerflansch (27) verbunden ist, und der zweite Körperflansch (26) trennbar mit dem zweiten Energieumwandlerflansch (28) verbunden ist.


 
4. Schwimmende Windenergieerzeugungsvorrichtung (1) nach Anspruch 3, wobei:

der erste Körperflansch (25) mittels einer ersten trennbaren Befestigungsanordnung trennbar mit dem ersten Energieumwandlerflansch (27) verbunden ist; und

der zweite Körperflansch (26) mittels einer zweiten trennbaren Befestigungsanordnung trennbar mit dem zweiten Energieumwandlerflansch (28) verbunden ist.


 
5. Schwimmende Windenergieerzeugungsvorrichtung (1) nach Anspruch 4, wobei jede der ersten und zweiten trennbaren Befestigungsanordnungen mehrere Schrauben (30a bis c, 32a bis c) und entsprechende Muttern (31a bis c, 33a bis c) umfasst.
 
6. Schwimmende Windenergieerzeugungsvorrichtung (1) nach einem der Ansprüche 3 bis 5, wobei mindestens einer aus dem ersten Körperflansch (25) und dem zweiten Körperflansch (26) umfasst:

einen ersten Satz Löcher für die trennbare Befestigung des Energieumwandlers (12) an dem Windturbinenkörper; und

einen zweiten Satz Löcher für die temporäre trennbare Befestigung einer Windturbinenkörperhalteanordnung (42) an dem Windturbinenkörper zwischen dem ersten Körperflansch (25) und dem zweiten Körperflansch (26).


 
7. Schwimmende Windenergieerzeugungsvorrichtung (1) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei der Energieumwandler ferner umfasst:

eine Bremsanordnung, die mechanisch mit dem ersten Energieumwandlerabschnitt (14) und dem zweiten Energieumwandlerabschnitt (15) gekoppelt ist; und

Verarbeitungsschaltkreise zum Steuern der Bremsanordnung zum Verringern der Drehgeschwindigkeit des ersten Energieumwandlerabschnitts (14) in Beziehung zu dem zweiten Energieumwandlerabschnitt (15).


 
8. Verfahren zum Ersetzen des Energieumwandlers (12) der schwimmenden Windenergieerzeugungsvorrichtung (1) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei das Verfahren die Schritte umfasst:

Befestigen (101) einer Halteanordnung (42) an dem oberen Körperabschnitt (10) und dem unteren Körperabschnitt (7), wobei die Halteanordnung angeordnet und konfiguriert ist, um eine relative Anordnung des oberen Körperabschnitts und des unteren Körperabschnitts zu erhalten;

Freigeben (102) der ersten trennbaren mechanischen Koppelung und der zweiten trennbaren mechanischen Koppelung;

Verringern einer axialen Kraft zwischen dem Energieumwandler (12) und jedem des oberen Körperabschnitts (10) und des unteren Körperabschnitts (7);

Entfernen (104) des Energieumwandlers;

Anordnen (105) eines Ersatzenergieumwandlers zwischen dem oberen Körperabschnitt (10) und dem unteren Körperabschnitt (7);

Befestigen (106) des Ersatzenergieumwandlers an dem oberen Körperabschnitt (10) und dem unteren Körperabschnitt (7) mittels der ersten trennbaren mechanischen Koppelung und der zweiten trennbaren mechanischen Koppelung;

Erhöhen einer axialen Kraft zwischen dem Energieumwandler und jedem des oberen Körperabschnitts und des unteren Körperabschnitts;

Abtrennen und Entfernen der Halteanordnung.


 
9. Verfahren nach Anspruch 8, wobei der Energieumwandler durch zumindest anfängliches Verschieben (103) des Energieumwandlers in einer Richtung entfernt wird, die im Wesentlichen rechtwinklig zur Längsachse des Windturbinenkörpers ist.
 
10. Verfahren nach Anspruch 8 oder 9, wobei die schwimmende Windenergieerzeugungsvorrichtung (1) eine Bremsanordnung umfasst, um im Wesentlichen die Drehung des Windturbinenkörpers zu verhindern,
wobei das Verfahren ferner den Schritt umfasst:
Steuern der Bremsanordnung, um die Drehung des Windturbinenkörpers zu verhindern, bevor die Halteanordnung (42) an dem oberen Körperabschnitt (10) und dem unteren Körperabschnitt (7) befestigt wird.
 
11. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 8 bis 10, ferner umfassend die Schritte:

Bereitstellen eines schwimmenden Behälters (40), der die Halteanordnung (42) und den Ersatzenergieumwandler trägt; und

Manövrieren des Behälters in Bezug zu dem Windturbinenkörper, sodass die Halteanordnung (42) zwischen dem oberen Körperabschnitt (10) und dem unteren Körperabschnitt (7) angeordnet ist.


 
12. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 8 bis 11, wobei der Schritt des Verringerns der axialen Kraft den Schritt umfasst:
Erhitzen der Halteanordnung (42) zum Aufweiten der Halteanordnung.
 
13. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 8 bis 12, wobei der Schritt des Verringerns der axialen Kraft den Schritt umfasst:
Kühlen der Halteanordnung (42) zum Zusammenziehen der Halteanordnung.
 


Revendications

1. Appareil flottant de récolte d'énergie éolienne (1) destiné à l'installation offshore, ledit appareil de récolte d'énergie éolienne comprenant :

un corps de turbine éolienne allongé s'étendant le long d'un axe (5) de corps de turbine éolienne longitudinal, ledit corps de turbine éolienne comprenant une partie de corps inférieure (7) destinée à être principalement en-dessous d'une surface d'eau (8) lorsque l'appareil de récolte d'énergie éolienne (1) fonctionne et une partie de corps supérieure (10) destinée à être principalement au-dessus d'une surface d'eau lorsque l'appareil de récolte d'énergie éolienne (1) fonctionne ;

au moins une pale (11a-c) fixée à la partie de corps supérieure (10) pour convertir l'énergie éolienne en rotation du corps de turbine éolienne autour de l'axe (5) de corps de turbine éolienne longitudinal ; et

un convertisseur d'énergie (12) fixé audit corps de turbine éolienne pour convertir la rotation dudit corps de turbine éolienne en énergie électrique,

ledit convertisseur d'énergie (12) comprenant une première partie de convertisseur d'énergie (14) couplée audit corps de turbine pour tourner en réponse à la rotation dudit corps de turbine éolienne, et une seconde partie de convertisseur d'énergie (15) destinée à être maintenue relativement fixe par rapport audit corps de turbine éolienne, la rotation qui en résulte de ladite première partie de convertisseur d'énergie (14) par rapport à ladite seconde partie de convertisseur d'énergie (15) étant convertie en énergie électrique par ledit convertisseur d'énergie (12), caractérisé en ce que

ledit convertisseur d'énergie (12) est fixé audit corps de turbine éolienne au moyen d'un premier couplage mécanique libérable entre ladite première partie de convertisseur d'énergie (14) et ladite partie de corps inférieure (7) du corps de turbine éolienne, et un second couplage mécanique libérable entre ladite première partie de convertisseur d'énergie (14) et ladite partie de corps supérieure (10) du corps de turbine éolienne.


 
2. Appareil flottant de récolte d'énergie éolienne (1) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ledit appareil de récolte d'énergie éolienne est configuré de telle manière que ledit convertisseur d'énergie (12) est agencé au-dessus de la surface d'eau (8) lorsque l'appareil de récolte d'énergie éolienne (1) fonctionne.
 
3. Appareil flottant de récolte d'énergie éolienne (1) selon la revendication 1 ou 2, dans lequel
ladite partie de corps supérieure (10) comprend une première bride de corps (25) ;
ladite partie de corps inférieure (7) comprend une seconde bride de corps (26) ;
ladite première partie de convertisseur d'énergie (14) comprend une première bride de convertisseur d'énergie (27) et une seconde bride de convertisseur d'énergie (28) ; et
ladite première bride de corps (25) est reliée de manière libérable à ladite première bride de convertisseur d'énergie (27) et ladite seconde bride de corps (26) est reliée de manière libérable à ladite seconde bride de convertisseur d'énergie (28).
 
4. Appareil flottant de récolte d'énergie éolienne (1) selon la revendication 3, dans lequel :

ladite première bride de corps (25) est reliée de manière libérable à ladite première bride de convertisseur d'énergie (27) au moyen d'un premier agencement de retenue libérable ;

et ladite seconde bride de corps (26) est reliée de manière libérable à ladite seconde bride de convertisseur d'énergie (28) au moyen d'un second agencement de retenue libérable.


 
5. Appareil flottant de récolte d'énergie éolienne (1) selon la revendication 4, dans lequel chacun desdits premier et second agencements de fixation libérables comprend une pluralité de boulons (30a-c, 32a-c) et d'écrous (31a-c, 33a-c) correspondants.
 
6. Appareil flottant de récolte d'énergie éolienne (1) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 3 à 5, dans lequel au moins une de la première bride de corps (25) et de la seconde bride de corps (26) comprend :

un premier jeu d'orifices pour la fixation libérable dudit convertisseur d'énergie (12) audit corps de turbine éolienne ; et

un second jeu d'orifices pour la fixation temporaire d'un agencement de retenue de corps de turbine éolienne (42) audit corps de turbine éolienne entre ladite première bride de corps (25) et ladite seconde bride de corps (26).


 
7. Appareil flottant de récolte d'énergie éolienne (1) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel ledit convertisseur d'énergie comprend en outre :

un agencement de freinage couplé mécaniquement à ladite première partie de convertisseur d'énergie (14) et à ladite seconde partie de convertisseur d'énergie (15) ; et

une circuiterie de traitement pour commander ledit agencement de freinage pour réduire une vitesse de rotation de ladite première partie de convertisseur d'énergie (14) par rapport à ladite seconde partie de convertisseur d'énergie (15) .


 
8. Procédé de remplacement du convertisseur d'énergie (12) de l'appareil flottant de récolte d'énergie éolienne (1) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, ledit procédé comprenant les étapes de :

fixer (101) un agencement de retenue (42) à ladite partie de corps supérieure (10) et à ladite partie de corps inférieure (7), ledit agencement de retenue étant agencé et configuré pour maintenir un agencement relatif de ladite partie de corps supérieure et ladite partie de corps inférieure ;

libérer (102) ledit premier couplage mécanique libérable et ledit second couplage mécanique libérable ;

réduire une force axiale entre ledit convertisseur d'énergie (12) et chacune de ladite partie de corps supérieure (10) et de ladite partie de corps inférieure (7) ;

retirer (104) ledit convertisseur d'énergie ;

agencer (105) un convertisseur d'énergie de remplacement entre ladite partie de corps supérieure (10) et ladite partie de corps inférieure (7) ;

fixer (106) ledit convertisseur d'énergie de remplacement à ladite partie de corps supérieure (10) et ladite partie de corps inférieure (7) au moyen dudit premier couplage mécanique libérable et dudit second couplage mécanique libérable ;

augmenter une force axiale entre ledit convertisseur d'énergie et chacune de ladite partie de corps supérieure et de ladite partie de corps inférieure ;

séparer et retirer ledit agencement de retenue.


 
9. Procédé selon la revendication 8, dans lequel ledit convertisseur d'énergie est retiré par, au moins initialement, le déplacement (103) dudit convertisseur d'énergie dans une direction essentiellement perpendiculaire à l'axe longitudinal dudit corps de turbine éolienne.
 
10. Procédé selon la revendication 8 ou 9, dans lequel ledit appareil flottant de récolte d'énergie éolienne (1) comprend un agencement de freinage pour empêcher essentiellement la rotation dudit corps de turbine éolienne,
ledit procédé comprenant en outre l'étape de :
commander ledit agencement de freinage pour empêcher la rotation dudit corps de turbine éolienne avant de fixer ledit agencement de retenue (42) à ladite partie de corps supérieure (10) et à ladite partie de corps inférieure (7).
 
11. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 8 à 10, comprenant en outre les étapes de :

fournir un bâtiment flottant (40) portant ledit agencement de retenue (42) et ledit convertisseur d'énergie de remplacement ; et

manÅ“uvrer ledit bâtiment, par rapport audit corps de turbine éolienne, de telle façon que ledit agencement de retenue (42) se retrouve agencé entre ladite partie de corps supérieure (10) et ladite partie de corps inférieure (7) .


 
12. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 8 à 11, dans lequel ladite étape de réduire ladite force axiale comprend l'étape de :
chauffer ledit agencement de retenue (42) pour dilater ledit agencement de retenue.
 
13. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 8 à 12, dans lequel ladite étape de réduire ladite force axiale comprend l'étape de :
refroidir ledit agencement de retenue (42) pour contracter ledit agencement de retenue.
 




Drawing





















REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description