HWS CONCRETE TOWERS S.L. (HWS) has Developed and Patented a SELF-CLIMBING CRANE that defies the limitations of existing cranes in the Wind Energy sector. The so-called AIRCRANE SYSTEM, is a versatile and cost-effective tool for INSTALLATION of UNLIMITED HEIGHT WIND TURBINES.
The wind sector is facing the challenge of reducing energy production cost. Bigger turbines at higher heights seem to be one of the most efficient solutions. However, as the towers grow, the current installation means are limited in both lifting capacity and availability. In this context, HWS has found a great potential for the Aircrane system, a crane that climbs along the tower externally and rises as the construction of the tower does, like in skyscrapers.
AIRCRANE competes with current huge expensive crawler and mobile cranes used in the industry, presenting the following main advantages:
ADVANTAGE (1): NO HEIGHT LIMITS
This technology can assemble any concrete tower at infinite height. The new generation of powerful wind turbines (> 4 MW) can be assembled at greater heights (>140 m), making the most of the available wind resource.
ADVANTAGE (2): HIGHER AVAILABILITY
There are limited units of large mobile and crawler cranes in the world and they are very expensive. The AIRCRANE overcomes this challenge being a low-cost machine, able to work anywhere with wind speeds up to 20 m/sec.
ADVANTAGE (3): EASY TRANSPORTABILITY & LESS CIVIL WORKS
Only four trucks are required to transport it; versus the 30-70 trucks needed by existing cranes. Additionally, on a wind farm fast assembly and transportation between one tower and the next one is guaranteed.
Due to the nature of climbing cranes, no large platforms or qualified soils are required at the base of the tower. This together with its easy transportation leads to minimizing civil works and obtaining an environmentally friendlier solution.
ADVANTAGE (4): VERSATILITY
Due to its simplicity, the AIRCRANE system can be easily adapted to any scenario: different lifting capacity, radius, etc. Apart from tower and nacelle, it can also lift the blades, the complete rotor, and be used for maintenance purposes both in onshore and offshore markets.
ADVANTAGE (5): COST REDUCTION
The implementation of the Aircrane could bring savings of up to 20% for tower installation, and 45% for wind turbine assembly, both of which lead to a relevant LCoE reduction.
The AIRCRANE System B consists of four different sub-systems: (1) the main structure: a common lattice steel girder, (2) the climbing system: three devices called ‘climbers’, (3) the lifting mechanism: winches, cables, hooks…, and (4) the electrical system, which controls the whole operation.
The ‘climbers’ are three motorized trolleys which self-attach to the concrete tower introducing a spike with a mechanical blocking device in a cavity made in the tower. Two of the climbers move independently along the main structure using a chain system. The right combination of movements of the three climbers along the girder – moving up and attaching/freeing themselves sequentially – allows an easy and safe climbing process.
TIME TO THE MARKET
This product has recently gained the support of the European Commission towards its introduction into the market. The manufacturing of the first real scale AIRCRANE will start in Q2- 2020 in the north of Spain, and is expected to be ready to show to potential customers in Q3-2020.