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Startup develops innovative self-installing wind turbines for remote sites: 'Solves one of the wind industry's greatest challenges in the coming decades'

The company hopes to bring the system to onshore commercial markets in 2027.

The company hopes to bring the system to onshore commercial markets in 2027.

Photo Credit: SENSEwind

Wind power is a key source of renewable energy across the U.K., and a London-based startup is prepared to solve a common problem in the industry, especially for out-of-the-way installations. 

Sense Wind has recently completed the first test of its "self-installing" up-tower system at the Tormywheel Wind Farm in Scotland, according to a report by Interesting Engineering

The pioneering test of the Sense system (Self Erecting Nacelle and Service System) involved a 6-megawatt (MW) turbine with a tripod frame, modular tower, and an assembly system that can shuttle the rotor nacelle section up to the top remotely, without the need for large and specialized crane systems. 

"The 6 MW SENSEWind demonstration project, with its new tower design, solves one of the wind industry's greatest challenges in the coming decades — how to economically transport and build large turbines with tall towers on remote sites," said Chris Walker, CEO of Muirhall Energy (which commissioned the location in 2017) and a Sense Wind board member.

Technicians will still be needed to assemble the rotors and nacelle at the ground level and attach it to a rail system that shuttles it to the top, where they'll also have to bolt it in place. 

The automated system lowers service costs and increases the safety for workers while speeding up the assembly and servicing process for turbines. Plus, the rail system involves standard steel pipe components commonly used in the oil and gas industry, now repurposed for this green tech endeavor. 

The company hopes to bring the automated system to onshore commercial markets in 2027 and apply it to fixed bottom offshore projects by 2030, as well.

This aligns with the U.K.'s goal to reach net zero by 2050, along with a more aggressive milestone of generating 100% of its electricity from zero carbon sources by 2035. 

The country had over 11,000 wind turbines installed with a total output capacity of 30 gigawatts, spread evenly between onshore and offshore farms in 2023. It obviously saw the benefit of harnessing this natural resource from the traditionally blustery island. 

Britain even set a recent record, generating 56% of the nation's electricity needs during just one half-hour period last December amid a storm.

Since the assembly and maintenance of wind turbines requires skilled technicians, even with the breakthrough Sense Wind automation tools, this renewable sector is a great source for jobs in the area. And as a clean, non-polluting source of power, it's a perfect fit for remote countryside areas.

Leaning into wind power has already proven successful. According to GreenMatch, "In October 2023, wind power was the dominant source of electricity generation in the U.K., accounting for 33.7% of the total electricity produced."

Sense Wind's work can only help to bolster the use of this renewable energy source in the country. And the company has plans to expand into the offshore sector soon, as well. 

Sense Wind's CEO Julian Brown explained: "By solving the tower logistical and cost challenge, we see the Sense solution being used on tall-tower onshore wind projects, as well as on fixed-bottom offshore wind projects as a competitive alternative to extra-large monopiles. The design is also easily integrated into the structure of many of the leading floating foundation concepts."

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