The world’s first water-based, electricity-generating wind turbine is set to be installed off the coast of Norway this coming weekendAlexandra Beck Gjorv of the Norwegian-based energy concern Statoil told
reporters this weekend that the new floating wind power station, known
as the Hywind, “should help move offshore wind farms out of sight”.
it proves successful, explained Gjorv, it could spur an industry-wide
shift to relocate wind farms to locations several miles offshore where
they would no longer cause disruptions on land.
farms with thousands of giant turbines from their current locations on
land into the northern Atlantic could potentially benefit military
radar operations, the shipping industry, fisheries, bird life and
tourism, Gjorv explained.
But there are also benefits for the energy industry itself.
wind turbines to sea presents new opportunities,” said Ms Gjorv. “The
wind is stronger and more consistent [and] areas are large.”
Statoil says that the floating turbines will be connected to mainland
power grids by cables stretched across the ocean floor. The use of
long, high-voltage cables places practical limits on just how far
offshore the company can place its turbines
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. Because the durable, high-capacity cables are so expensive, the distance from land is not unlimited, explained Ms Gjorv.
Hywind turbine was designed and built by German engineering
conglomerate Siemens AG, combining the newest wind power technologies
with those from the oil and gas industry. The 2.3 megawatt floating
power generator is set for a two year trial run off the coast of Norway
before Statoil will make a decision on large-scale commercial viability
of the devices.
In addition to the 65-meter-tall above ground
portion of the turbine, the Hywind is also equipped with a flotation
element that stretches 100 meters beneath the surface of the sea. The
submerged segment, known as a draft, will be anchored to the sea bed by
three cables that can be up to 700 meters in length. Thus, the turbine
can potentially be moored in waters nearly a kilometer deep.
in their early phases, offshore wind farms will cost significantly more
than the more common terrestrial-based ones. In the long-run, however,
Ms Gjorv maintains that there is no reason why the floating wind farms
should cost more than static ones.
She added that Statoil
intends to initially push their product in markets where there is both
the ability to pay as well as a rapidly growing demand for energy.
insists that the floating turbines could eventually be installed off
both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North America as well as off
the coasts of Spain, Portugal, Norway and the United Kingdom.
wind farms could prove a practical and beneficial energy source for
countries with little available land or who have very little wind, Ms
“The global market for such turbines is
potentially enormous, depending on how low we can press costs,” she
said, though she was unable to offer specifics on when or at what cost
the turbines would be commercially available.