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Published on December 16th, 2012 | by James Ayre

29

1st Ever Floating Wind Turbine In USA Now Being Tested

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December 16th, 2012 by
 
 
The first ever floating wind turbine in the USA is now in the process of being tested by engineers from the University of Maine. The new turbine will help to harness the vast wind energy potential located off the coasts of Maine.

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The director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center Habib Dagher said, “We have the equivalent of 150 nuclear power plants worth of wind blowing off the coast of Maine. It only takes two nuclear power plants to power the whole state, that’s how big that resource is.”

“We’re making history here and it’s all been started out by a few of us here and it’s grown to include over 50 students and numerous faculty,” said Anthony Viselli, a UMaine engineer working on the turbine system.

The first turbine will be released during this coming summer, but is mostly going to serve as a further test. The turbines which will end up being used commercially will be around eight times larger than the test turbine. The blades will be about as tall as the Washington Monument. Their massive size is integral to their planned use installed over 20 miles off shore, which is beyond the ground level horizon line.


 
“You will not be able to see them, you will not be able to hear them, so nobody will know they’re there essentially, but they’re out there creating clean, renewable energy to power our state,” said Dagher.

The current goal is for a commercial-scale wind power park of more than 80 turbines to be installed by 2030.

Graduate student Racheal Joyce said, “There’s a lot of work that’s ahead, but it’s exciting work and I think the progress that we’ve seen so far is really what’s keeping us going and excited for the next step and the next step.”

Source: WABI
Image Credits: Floating Wind Turbine via Wikimedia Commons

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • Bob_Wallace

    Found this…

    “6. The University of Maine (Orono, Maine) will build two 6-megawatt direct-drive turbines on floating concrete semi-submersible foundations near Monhegan Island to demonstrate potential cost-effective improvements in commercial-scale production of traditional steel foundations.”

    http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Can-the-DOE-Kick-Start-Offshore-Wind-in-the-US

    Bunch of good information in the article.

  • Dave2020

    This development is heading up shit creek without a paddle, I fear. These guys need to read up on the subject first, with a very critical and open mind:-

    http://www1.eere.energy.gov/wind/pdfs/offshore_wind_market_and_economic_analysis.pdf

    2.2 High-Level Industry Trends and Opportunities:

    Historically, offshore wind turbines have been marinized versions of their land-based counterparts.

    2.2.2 Floating Technology:

    Floating platforms open up new and possibly better wind resource areas (WRAs), with the potential for more sites adjacent to load. They also offer the possibility for greater standardization in the industry because the floating platforms have limited sensitivity to variability in seabed conditions and water depth. Standardization offers the dual benefits of efficiency in fabrication and assembly and increases the possibility for quayside assembly and towing of a complete turbine assembly out to sea.

    2.6.2 O&M Servicing and Technological Advancement:

    Approximately two-thirds of annual operations expenditures costs have been for corrective maintenance despite significant annual investments in preventative maintenance including multiple trips to each turbine every year.

    Atlantic Array – The Challenges: RWE npower Renewables.

    “Deeper water, larger turbines and challenging wave and wind climate requires novel design.”

    “O&M efficiency essential to project economics.”

    NB again, what I’ve been saying for years and never forget – KISS.

    Ignore the industry standard and go for the Technip option + Dave2020′s ideas. That’s where the development needs to be. You won’t regret it guys.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Geez, Dave, why in the world do all those thousands of highly educated and experienced engineers who design wind turbines and floating platforms not bow to your superior understanding of physics?

      It’s a mystery….

      • Dave2020

        “A long time ago, somewhere around the time of World War II, Americans were infected with a highly contagious virus which renders them impossible of learning from the experiences of people from other countries.”

        You said it Bob. Have you caught the virus?

        It’s no mystery. How can anybody pass judgement on something they have no knowledge of? You haven’t informed them have you Bob? I know I haven’t.

        You don’t want to learn from all the mistakes being made in Europe?

        http://www.icis.com/heren/articles/2012/12/10/9622880/rising-offshore-wind-electricity-capacity-to-crash-german-power-prices-at-night-says.html

        “But analysts dismissed claims that offshore wind power could provide baseload capacity”. Naturally the analysts have no idea what happens when you add energy storage to the equation. Then you DO get baseload from offshore wind!!!

        As a general rule, if wind power generation reached 30% of the required demand capacity, then “prices will crash”, Lekander said.

        Not enough energy storage, so the market is heading for queer street.

        As I’ve always said – for market stability and efficient operation, deal with the problem of the power SURPLUS.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Dave, when you say stuff like this you just sound stupid…

          “Naturally the analysts have no idea what happens when you add energy storage to the equation.”

          • Dave2020

            These analysts can only be working with incomplete data. They don’t have a crystal ball, do they?

            What’s stupid about converting – e.g. the UK’s 35GW of offshore wind, projected for the mid to late 2020s, into dispatchable ‘baseload’ electricity?

            Explain yourself.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Here’s a very excellent (IMHO) paper about how wind (and solar) can be used along with storage to create a 99.9% renewable energy grid.
            https://docs.google.com/file/d/1NrBZJejkUTRYJv5YE__kBFuecdDL2pDTvKLyBjfCPr_8yR7eCTDhLGm8oEPo/edit

            Baseload is an outmoded concept. Creating adequate demand to meet at the moment demand is how people in the energy business are now thinking.

            If you’ll read the paper you should understand how it probably makes sense to overbuild wind and solar generation and not attempt to store it all. That may change if the price of storage decreases.

          • Dave2020

            I have already read it. This is one appraisal I’ve had from a uni climate discussion group, regarding that very study:-

            “A remarkable result but it does depend on huge ‘battery’ storage either from fuel cells, Li batteries or car batteries. I haven’t checked the costs of the batteries (clearly vehicle batteries won’t work yet in UK) and it would require huge capital investment in renewables (delivering between 1.8 and 2.9 times the electrical load required) and batteries but this is clearly one way forward. I would also be concerned about the supply of resources tied up in the very large power and energy requirements of the batteries.”

            Yes, people use the term ‘baseload’ without understanding how easily renewables can be integrated into a grid. That’s why I put the inverted commas there.

            Even with very little storage I doubt that the “overbuild” needs to be “between 1.8 and 2.9 times” the peak demand, but there are many studies that do come to that conclusion. (More experts who don’t understand what they’re doing?)

            e.g. a UK grid – 180GW installed capacity @ 75GW peak in 2030!!

            Sorry, but not by any stretch of the imagination does that make sense.

            Anyway, if you understood the engineering function of my design you would be aware that ‘cheap’ storage has already arrived. This is as much to do with the location as the technology. i.e. a before-generator raised-weight accumulator is an order of magnitude better than any on-grid electricity storage could ever be.

            That simple truth applies BOTH to capital outlay and network operational costs.

            It never will be necessary to “store it all”, but I figure you need enough to be able to run a 75GW peak system with no more than 30GW excess and that could save billions of pounds/dollars AND it would be zero carbon AND it would be a more economical use of resources.

          • Bob_Wallace

            What the paper shows is a “worst case” outcome. What could be done using today’s technology to meet grid needs using expected 2030 wind, solar and storage prices. Any improvements in generation or storage would drop the cost. The authors are very clear about that.

            Given today’s technology and costs it is cheaper to overbuild generation than to build more storage. They ran 28 billion simulation using differing ratios of generation and storage to arrive at those numbers.

            The mix for the UK would have to be different, I would expect. The UK would likely use more offshore wind and less solar. In practice the UK might use Iceland geothermal and hydro and/or North African solar which the grid studied would not have available. But that is irrelevant in terms of this paper.

            If you have a superior idea then you should quit spending your time telling us about it and instead spend your time convincing people in the business to hear you out. I’m not going to fund your project.

          • Dave2020

            Just in this morning – here is another person’s view on the paper that . . .

            “. . . described modelling for the Eastern Seaboard, which promotes investment in considerable over-capacity of renewables over a very wide area in order that there is (almost) always enough electricity generated somewhere to meet peak load – hence a need for very small amounts of storage.”

            “But as the authors note this means that in such a system there will often be far more electricity generated than is being demanded for conventional usage. That, in turn means that, rather than waste this power, it would be used for heat and perhaps powering electric cars.”

            “This then has a striking similarity to the Zero Carbon Britain strategy which pretty much focuses on electrifying everything . .”

            So Bob, in short, the USA is just repeating stuff that’s already been flogged to death over here. The fundamental problem is still the same, regardless of the mix of renewables you have.

            “It is well known that the eroei for fossil fuels is declining. Less often noted is that the eroei for renewables will also decline if they are rolled out on an extensive scale.”

            The reasons are self-evident. Over-capacity is a grossly inefficient strategy. Every time you curtail production, your eroei drops with it. The US can avoid making this stupid mistake, if you start to listen to reason.

            You tell me that the strategy is advocated because storage is currently too costly. I explain that this is no longer the case, but you just say it again – “storage is too expensive.” I can’t see any logic in that.

            Deal with the surplus at the design stage. Anything else is dumb.

            You should be pleased that I’m forced into trying to transfer this knowledge to ANYONE who’ll listen, because nobody’s listening to me here. At least you have the time to talk, even if you hate the message. That’s as good as it gets for a despised ‘visionary’.

            My past experience is that the Chinese are keen to embrace innovation. You’re keen to export more jobs like the UK? Or Germany for that matter – their PV manufacturing has migrated East.

            If you run one simulation with a tiny false premise, you get GIGO.

            If you run 28 billion, you just end up with more garbage.

            If you don’t want to get the message, it’s your funeral – no skin off my nose.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Thank you for agreeing to let engineers and scientists the opportunity to keep working on our energy problems without out you.

            Obviously you either did not read the paper or did not read it with comprehension.

            None of the ideas were new, the purpose of the research was not to develop new ideas. The purpose of the research was to take ideas which were not supported by data and to produce the data needed to determine 1) if we could reasonably operate an almost 100% renewable grid and 2) if power from that grid would be affordable.

            You, and the critic you quote did not read the paper carefully. The issue of what might be done with ‘over-generation’ is dealt with on journal page 68.

            Eventually you might want to question why so many people have looked at your idea, shrugged their shoulders, and kept walking. But give China a try if you wish.

            And remember to protect your nose….

          • Dave2020

            “None of the ideas were new” Well they wouldn’t be would they? Zero data! That’s the barrier that innovation is up against.

            “to produce the data needed to determine 1) if we could reasonably operate an almost 100% renewable grid and 2) if power from that grid would be affordable.”

            And the outcome was:-

            “If we applied the findings of this article, in the future we would build variable generation, designing for enough capacity to make electric load for the worst hours, and as a side effect we will have enough extra electricity to meet thermal loads.”

            So yes, the paper does have – “a striking similarity to the Zero Carbon Britain strategy”

            Over two years ago I put my proposals to the Centre for Alternative Technologies, who commissioned the ZCB study. (no new ideas there either) It was quite clear from their response, not only did they not understand how the design worked, they didn’t want to understand, so they didn’t look into it.

            “why so many people have looked at your idea, shrugged their shoulders, and kept walking.”

            That’s a grand total of zero people. Just like Bob, they shrug their shoulders and dismiss the idea without even looking at it. As you have said many times – if I don’t give you data that you can understand, you will assume the ideas can’t be viable.

            When I manage to inspire somebody to do the number crunching, then we’ll have the data to prove that in future 100% renewables will start cheap and just get cheaper. (without a heavy drain on resources. e.g. no rare earth magnets.)

            People who understand the value of conventional pumped storage are busy building it, and improving it. But it costs about £1bn for 1GW. Conventional offshore wind is more than £1bn/GW. (nameplate) If storage-integrated wind/wave can be built for £1bn/GW (nameplate) it will make the lowest cost electricity available ON DEMAND. Think about it.

            http://cleantechnica.com/2012/12/18/estorage-improving-wind-solar-energy-integration-into-electrical-grid/

          • Bob_Wallace

            I took at look at the Zero Carbon Britain site. I did not notice any research where they did a feasibility study for a wind/solar grid using real world demand data. Do you know where it might be?

            “When I manage to inspire somebody to do the number crunching”

            Obviously your current strategy is failing you. Continuing to argue with people on discussion forums that you have the ultimate solution and that everyone is too stupid to understand what you’re pitching is a fail.

            Now, you are not unique on the web. There’s a guy who has made a royal pain of himself on weather sites claiming that he can use tubes to bring cold water to the surface, kill hurricanes and reverse global warming.
            People point out obvious problems, or what seem to be obvious problems, and he simply argues with them. He seems to be unable to listen to feedback.
            That gets him nowhere but banned from numerous sites.

            Now, to be honest, I’ve kind of forgotten what your ideas is. You’re the guy who wants to put a bunch of VAWTs on a floating platform and store compressed air?

            VAWTs which, while extremely well understood, are simply not used by the wind industry. I’m betting there’s a good reason.

            Turbines close to the water where wind speeds are lower, turbines stealing energy from each other, and compressed air which is an inefficient storage methodology if there is not also some way to store the heat.

            Or do I have you confused with someone else?

            Whatever, it seems to me that your idea, or the manner in which you are presenting it, does not rise to the level of “interesting enough”.

            You might want to consider your current approach a failure and spend time devising a new plan to present your idea to the industry in a fashion that would get a few minutes of their time. There are very few unique ideas in the world, just repackaging of other ideas. Someone with the right background can likely see the promise or failure in mere moments.

            If you think them all blind to your obvious genius idea, then you are the one who will need to do the number crunching.

          • Dave2020

            “Or do I have you confused with someone else?”

            You are very confused. Now you have described what you ‘understand’ my proposals to be, I can see why you would dismiss them out of hand.

            Of the three fundamental elements of the design . .

            1.) The integrated raised weight accumulator.

            2.) The integrated wave energy converter.

            3.) The single VAWT.

            . . . you got ONE almost right. In fact, the VAWT design addresses and resolves the issues that trouble you. It has new developments that Technip are not using, but I doubt you even read their rationale for using their design on a floating platform. They have a logical design to “marinize” an offshore turbine – very sensible.

            So evidently you haven’t understood anything I’ve described on CleanTechnica threads over the past year, because you couldn’t be bothered to think about it.

            Only a handful of people have been open-minded enough to ask me to explain things they didn’t quite grasp and then I’ve always managed to convince them of the design’s merits.

            The rest don’t want to know, so they never discover the facts.

            But these discussions are not a waste of time. Each challenge makes me re-evaluate and that’s never a bad thing.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Ah, so you’re not eggbeater island guy.

            You’re idea, which I vaguely remember is a Swiss Army knife package including a VAWT.

            I got involved with the idea of wind-generation back in the early ’80s as a potential investor. I wanted to play but the minimum buy-in exceeded my personal limit for a single investment. But I stayed involved as a casual observer.

            Early on VAWTs got their field time. There were a few erected at Altamont along with all sorts of interesting designs from two to six or more bladed models. In some the blades were in front of the turbine, in others trailing.

            Over the 30 years that followed the industry has pretty much settled in on the same basic design and I know of no VAWTs in operation on anything other than a test/novelty basis.

            We see VAWTs show up on these pages fairly often. Someone is totally convinced that they’ve got the answer. They show up, make great claims, and then fade away. I’ve yet to see anyone produce performance/cost data that shows VAWTs to be marketable. And I’ve never seen one turn up for sale on a high reputation renewable energy site.

            I’d say you’ve got a fairly steep hill ahead for you to climb. You claim that VAWTs make sense? And you claim to have a device which could competitively harvest wave power? And you’ve got an unproven storage system?

            Wind engineers seem to not like VAWTs. People with large bucks haven’t been able to market a great wave grabber.

            Seems to me that you’ve got to prove each out in isolation. If that is successful then penciling together the combo is simple math. You wouldn’t need to do anything nearly as complex as what Budischak, et al. did. But you’re not likely to get anywhere based on having ” a logical design”.

            Numbers is needed. Numbers what am based on collected data.

          • Dave2020

            “I’d say you’ve got a fairly steep hill ahead for you to climb. You claim that VAWTs make sense? And you claim to have a device which could competitively harvest wave power? And you’ve got an unproven storage system? Seems to me that you’ve got to prove each out in isolation.”

            Don’t I know it. When I succeed in putting my message across this is inevitably the conclusion that everyone reaches. e.g.

            “My view is that there are so many differences in your proposal that it will be difficult to bridge the understanding gap. One step at a time – i.e. first the VAWT, then the storage – perhaps might get there in time.” http://discussion.guardian.co.uk/comment-permalink/19507870

            “I think in particular it will be exceptionally hard to persuade any investor to move away from the standard energy conversion basis, of blades turning an electrical generator.”

            You’re right, but “One step at a time” isn’t an option. The VAWT won’t be viable without the new drivetrain, which is specific to the storage technology. The vessel won’t be stable without the WEC. This is the mother of all disruptive technology – so we’re stymied.

            “The only way I can think of ‘designing a grid to minimise storage’ is to design floating wind/wave installations with integral energy storage. This is an eminently practical solution and may not even be expensive, because for every 500 units deployed you’d get the same capacity as 1 Dinorwig. You can manage without the interconnector too, so that’s a £2bn saving for a start.” http://discussion.guardian.co.uk/comment-permalink/16403744

            The storage system was proven in the 19th. century!! Everyone ignores the principle (a very strange oversight), apart from these guys:-

            http://www.gravitypower.net/

            The following came from CleanTechnica, but I’ve lost the link:-

            “In the US, where $1 trillion is expected to be spent on electricity network infrastructure in the next 10 years, at least one fifth of that – $200 billion – will be spent on energy storage.”

            Could be an expensive mistake, if most of that storage is on-grid. Likewise in the UK:-

            http://www.utilityweek.co.uk/news/news_story.asp?id=196966&title=Incentivise+electricity+storage+and+work+out+how+much+we+need%2C+engineers+tell+government

            “To move beyond 40% to 80% renewable power (the target for around 2050), Germany could need as much as 14 GW of short-term and 18 GW of seasonal power storage to meet its peak power demand of around 80 GW in the moderate scenario. At that point, power prices would be roughly 10% greater than in 2011, but reaching 100% renewable power will be quite expensive indeed. The German engineers estimate that the final 20% will triple the need for power storage, raising prices once again by around 19%.”

            Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1pywf)

            If the UK exclusively deployed Smart marine kit for ‘Round 3′ we’d have 20GW of storage by 2020. (and cheaper electricity?) That transforms the transition, wouldn’t you say?

            This area (below) has 60% capacity factor wind. In practice that can mean a wider variability, and more frequent curtailment. But anyway, the more energy you harvest, the greater the need AND VALUE of storage:-

            “The energy storage system has the capacity to store approximately 800kWh (kilowatt hours) nominal, 500kWh normal usage.”

            Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1v6u1)

            Compare that to a single 2MW Smart marine installation, where you’d have a storage capacity of 10MWh. – and zero on-grid storage.

            Let’s be clear – when I say something is stupid, I’m referring to the idea or strategy. The people behind it are most likely more intelligent than I. But everyone makes mistakes, no matter how clever they are. It is really exasperating to see so much talent chasing highly suspect goals. (Oh the man-hours being wasted!!)

            Kind regards, Merry Christmas – Dave Smart

        • http://www.facebook.com/paula.moffatt.5 Paula Moffatt

          Am thimking that smart metres that feed into homesplants+ software could allow allkinds of surplus option, could charge batteries (lawn mower, boat, car and smaller items) and run clothes driers and make fancy lighipting displays come alive, could be set to do any preplanned things we want.

  • Luke

    No mention of the capacity?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Looks like a little one. 1/8th scale of what they expect to install.

      Feds made money for some floaters to be installed off Coos Bay, Oregon.

      We’ve got massive amounts of wind available out here, over deep water.

    • Ronald Brak

      Let’s see, Wikipedia says the Washington monument is 169 metres tall. (Odd, it looks bigger in Fallout 3.) And 60 metre blades are currently used in six megawatt turbines, so if I eat two squre pies, that means a wind turbine with 169 metre blades might have a capacity of about 48 megawatts.

      • Bob_Wallace

        In other words, there’s a problem with the article.

        • Ronald Brak

          Wait a minute, it says the blades will be about as tall as the Washington momument, so a singular blade might be half that size or about 85 metres. That’s not too far off from the 60-75 metre blade on a six megawatt turbine or the 62 metre blade on a 7.58 megawatt turbine.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “The blades will be about as tall as the Washington Monument.”

            If you read that as the tip of the blade at full top will be about as tall as…, perhaps.

            An 80 meter tower with a 75 meter blade gets you to 155 meters.

            Siemens announced the “world’s largest turbine” in August. It will have 75 meter blades and a 6 MW turbine. It’s designed for off-shore.

            Floaters are pretty new tech. I wonder if they’d push the size limits with a floater.

          • Ronald Brak

            It would be nice if they just gave the blade length.

          • Ronald Brak

            Or rotor diameter.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “The blades will be about as tall as the Washington Monument.”

            If you read that as the tip of the blade at full top will be about as tall as…, perhaps.

            An 80 meter tower with a 75 meter blade gets you to 155 meters.

            Siemens announced the “world’s largest turbine” in August. It will have 75 meter blades and a 6 MW turbine. It’s designed for off-shore.

            Floaters are pretty new tech. I wonder if they’d push the size limits with a floater.

      • Bill_Woods

        “The diameter of the blades’ rotation will be 500 feet and the distance from water level to the hub at the top of the tower will be about 300, Dagher said.”
        https://bangordailynews.com/2012/12/09/news/bangor/test-turbine-at-umaine-could-be-a-glimpse-into-maines-offshore-wind-energy-future/
        I.e. “about as tall as the Washington Monument” refers to the height of the tip of a blade extending upward from the hub, not the length of a blade alone. 300 + 500/2 = 550 ~= 555 ft. But that’s for a 6-MW turbine, not this test one.

        • Ronald Brak

          Thanks.

      • Bill_Woods

        “The diameter of the blades’ rotation will be 500 feet and the distance from water level to the hub at the top of the tower will be about 300, Dagher said.”
        https://bangordailynews.com/2012/12/09/news/bangor/test-turbine-at-umaine-could-be-a-glimpse-into-maines-offshore-wind-energy-future/
        I.e. “about as tall as the Washington Monument” refers to the height of the tip of a blade extending upward from the hub, not the length of a blade alone. 300 + 500/2 = 550 ~= 555 ft. But that’s for a 6-MW turbine, not this test one.

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