Green Energy — January 14, 2010 at 7:15 am

Floating windmills the key to offshore wind energy?


There seem to be two types of people in the world — those who think this looks totally cool:

…and those who do not.

Because wind energy sources are, in many cases, found on shorelines (oceans, seas, the Great Lakes, e.g.), finding ways to move the wind turbines out over the horizon has many attractive advantages: visual impact, noise, bird deaths are all reduced. The problem is that the water there is so deep, anchoring them to the lake, sea or ocean floor is not feasible.

Enter the floating wind turbine. Seriously.

There are three basic types as shown in this diagram:

You have those that are ballast stabilized, mooring stabilized and buoyuancy stabilized.

StatoilHydro, a Norwegian oil and gas company, has teamed up with Siemens and Technip to develop an operational ballast stabilized 2.3 megawatt floating offshore wind turbine called the Hywind.

Here it is under construction:

According to an a recent article in Composites Manufacturing it was assembled thusly:

After nearly a decade of research, the company began assembly and installation of the one-of-a-kind windmill [in June 2009]. The assembly was done in stages. First, the substructure was towed horizontally from a port to a nearby fjord where water was poured in until the structure upended itslef. Then, gravel and stone were used to lower it to the required depth of 328 feet (100 meters) below the surface. The tower, which is 213 feet tall, was added in two sections; and lastly the generator and blades were attached.

Here’s a drawing of the final installation:

Youtube video HERE.

It will now undergo a two-year pilot study looking at how the turbines behave under floating conditions and measuring forces and fatigue under different motion controlling routines.

Again from the Composites Manufacturing article:

The floating structure, designed to behave similar to a boat hull, consists of a steel jacket filled with ballast and software, which will control the windmill blades and effectively stabilize the structure.

I’m one of those types that thinks wind farms look totally coolio, jack. But lots of folks aren’t. Offshore windmills that are out beyond the horizon may be a solution to this problem and it looks like the technology now exists to make that a reality. How cool is that???!

And one more thing: why is this being developed by a Norwegian oil and gas company and not an American one???

I’m just sayin’…