Will floating wind turbines work?

We are all familiar with onshore and offshore wind turbines, but what about turbines that are offshore but not under water?

Statoil successfully designed and installed the first ever floating turbine off the west coast of Norway in 2009 and in less than two years the turbine, referred to as Hywind, generated more than 15 MWh of electricity. A leading company in oil and gas production, Statoil claim they want to put technology through its paces and the UK’s Crown Estate has given the go-ahead to build five floating wind turbines off the coast of Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Offshore wind is already very popular in Europe, both because it harnesses the natural power of the wind and because the visual impact is less significant. Currently, offshore wind turbines can be installed in a maximum water depth of 60 metres as the supportive pylons need to be drilled into the sea bed. In contrast, the new style floating turbines are anchored to the seabed using cables meaning they can be installed in water as deep as 700 metres.

The capacity for wind power out to sea is much greater because the wind flow is undisturbed by topographic features that can be a problem inland. Investors have been hesitant to offer support for these projects as the initial costs are so high, however engineers promise that expenses will diminish as experience is gained and the right design principles are used.

The continued evolution of renewable technology and the enthusiasm it receives offers an optimistic outlook for the wind power industry. Fine Energy are focused on working with internationally renowned manufacturers of wind turbines to select the best turbine for the site, and to make wind work for you.