Aiming to combine two abundant and reliable offshore renewable energy resources, Japan’s MODEC has come up with SQWID, “a floating wind and marine tidal power platform that makes use of a Darrieus wind turbine and Savonius current turbine.”
Demonstrating sqwid at Wind Expo 2013 in Tokyo last week, MODEC asserted that the offshore renewable energy platform generates electrical power more cheaply than other floating wind power generation systems.
SQWID: Harnessing wind and tidal currents
With a larger, rectangular swept area capable of harnessing low and high-speed winds from any direction, vertical-axis Darrieus wind turbines can generate twice as much power as conventional wind turbines with vertical propeller blades, according to MODEC.
Adding to SQWID’s clean power generation capacity, the Savonius current turbine always rotates in the same direction, regardless of the direction of marine tidal currents.
SQWID’s float structure is flat, lies low in the water, and has a low center of gravity which confers stability and makes SQWID ideal for use in shallow water. The flat, circular platform base supports the Darrieus wind turbine’s power generation assembly, offering maintenance workers easy access.
Rubber mounts serve as gimbals and isolate SQWID’s power generation assembly from wave motion, adding to the platform’s stability and ability to generate power in variable marine conditions.
Submerged below SQWID’s float structure, the Savonius current turbine acts as ballast, making the power generation assembly self-righting.
“A general contractor specializing in engineering, procurement, construction, and installation of floating production systems,” MODEC builds, operates, and owns oil tankers and offshore oil and gas platforms.
MODEC belives SQWID is “ideally suited for ‘stranded’ islands to ‘isolated’ islands as an emergency power source as well as other broad applications.” It has manufactured all the components of a 500 kilowatt (kW) version of the hybrid marine renewable power generation platform that it intends to test on land and then offshore this year.
The first floating offshore wind turbine in the US — a scaled-down prototype for field-testing purposes — was in the process of being installed off Maine’s coast this past December.
Commenting on the potential to generate clean, renewable electricity from winds off the Maine coast, Habib Dagher, director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, 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.”
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