Start-up Amphibious Energy has developed a transportable, autonomous energy container to electrify unmanned offshore oil & gas platforms. The EnergyPod is powered by a unique combination of an innovative offshore wind turbine and solar panels. Batteries guarantee a twelve day backup supply. It is a cost effective and, above all, environmental friendly alternative to diesel generators. At the Maasvlakte 2 Amphibious Energy has found the ideal location to test, demonstrate and produce the compact system.
For what problem have you found a solution?
“Due to safety and economic reasons, withdrawing personnel of oil & gas platforms to create autonomously working platforms becomes commonplace. In addition, more and more fields are depleted, so platforms have to be decommissioned or moved. Autonomous and standby platforms require less but still continuous power supply for e.g. lighting, pumps or anticorrosion systems. As the commonly used diesel generators are polluting and in need of frequent refueling, a more cost efficient and environmentally friendly alternative is more than desirable or even required by the government to obtain a license.”
What is the core of your solution?
“We have developed the EnergyPod, a transportable renewable energy supply system. On top of an 8-feet container, a 1,5 – 2 meter funnel shaped wind turbine with rotor blades is connected to a 3 kW or 5 kW permanent magnetic generator (PMG). It has a double layered housing, turning itself towards the prevailing wind. Solar panels on the sides raise the output. The generated solar and wind energy is converted by two different systems and stored in two battery packages of 90-150 kW. They provide continuous and peak load to the platform. A remotely controlled Energy Management System measures and adapts the performance of the EnergyPod. It monitors the rotational speed, the wind conditions and the loading rate of the battery. When the wind speed exceeds 22-30 m/s, or when the battery is fully loaded, the wind turbine is switched off automatically. A hydraulic brake integrated in the generator stops the rotor blades, preventing the generator from overheating.”
What is so pioneering about your solution?
“The combination of small scale offshore renewable energy generation and storage in a compact system is quite unique. Up until now it was a challenge to design a wind turbine that could be combined with a transportable generator unit. During transport all components are safely stored inside the container. Our wind turbine has large, light weight rotor blades instead of propeller blades. Rotor blades require far less rotation to generate energy, resulting in less noise (<40 dB) and rotational friction. Thanks to the blade design and EMS, the turbine is fit for both linear and turbulent wind conditions.
The hydraulic redundant brake is a breakthrough too. Smaller wind turbines have a much higher RPM than their ‘big brothers’. Both brakes can hold a force of 620Nm. The combination of two different converting systems for solar and wind is special as well. And last but not least, the dual 86 kW, battery pack holds charge for 12 windless or heavily cloudy days.”
What are the benefits?
“The EnergyPod is very compact and fully transportable. It can be mounted in 30 minutes. Our solution is durable, safe, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly. The system is explosion-safe and the turbine housing prevents human contact. We can see that operational costs’ savings for offshore operators will be significant. Normally a ship or helicopter drops by every other week to refill the diesel or gas generator while service is required yearly. At the end of the day, this results in significant costs. However, the environmental benefits are the most important: use of renewable energy, zero CO₂-emission and noise reduction.”
What are the challenges?
“We currently have the best batteries available for the offshore market in the EnergyPod. However, the energy output is restricted by the availability of quick (dis)charging power batteries. The harsh offshore conditions can make it difficult to produce batteries that meet all safety regulations. We trust this will be solved in the near future, due to larger technology companies focusing on these issues.”
How far are you now?
“At the Maasvlakte 2 the conditions are similar to offshore conditions. This spring, we placed an EnergyPod at this site to test and demonstrate the workability of the unit. A webcam connected to our website shows real-time operations. We have been approached by several offshore and onshore operators to view the Hybrid EnergyPod, which might lead to potential partnerships for us. In addition, we have made a start with a production facility to manufacture our EnergyPods at the same Maasvlakte 2 site. Within 6 months we hope to be fully operational on a commercial basis.”
What are your next steps?
“For now we are focusing on finding a launching customer and setting up the production facility. For the future are we looking into developing composite rotor blades as an alternative to the aluminum blades. Composites are even lighter and have a longer lifetime. To increase the energy output, we will develop a bigger turbine that still fits in the container. A 20 cm larger turbine increases the energy output by a factor 3, raising the capacity to > 5 kW and the peak load to ± 200 kWh.”
What is the added value of Offshore Wind Innovators?
“Offshore Wind Innovators is very dedicated to assist start-up companies. As my background is in oil & gas, meeting people in the offshore wind industry is very valuable. For instance, it was an eye opener that during the construction of wind turbines onshore, the auxiliary power is provided by diesel generators. Our system can solve this ironic situation. In addition, services like the Masterclass Finance give a good overview of all investment opportunities.
This article has been prepared in cooperation with the Offshore Wind Innovators.
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