StatoilHydro, a state-run oil company in Norway, recently announced a 2 year test of a floating 2.3 MW wind turbine off the coast of Norway.
Cables will be used to transmit the power to shore for this $80 million pilot project. The turbine has a height of 65 meters above the sea surface and a weighs 138 tons and will be mounted on a buoy 6 miles off shore.
This technology is unique because the turbine will not be stationary. Three anchors will secure the turbine to the sea floor and can be used at depths ranging from 120 to 700 meters.
“We have drawn on our offshore expertise from the oil and gas industry to develop wind power offshore,” says Alexandra Bech Gjørv, head of New Energy for StatoilHydro.
Off-shore wind energy has a lot of potential, yet presents some challenges. Winds at sea typically are stronger and more consistent and there is a lot of unused space. Floating turbines can be moved and allow wind energy to be harvested further from the shore, reducing some concerns regarding views and wildlife. Some of the challenges include transmission, maintenance, cost, and turbine performance while moving.
A 3 meter high model has been successfully tested in a wave tank. The floating turbine should be up and running in the fall of 2009.
“If we succeed, then we will have taken a major step in moving the wind power industry offshore. Floating wind turbines can make a major contribution to providing the world with clean power, but there are major technical and commercial challenges that need to be resolved,” said Alexandra Bech Gjørv.