New Floating Wind Turbines to Make Wind Energy Cheaper, More Reliable?

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Floating wind turbines are a little more complicated and require higher initial costs. But a new study, Project Deepwater, by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) in the UK has found that due to their greater ability to access stronger and more consistent winds deeper out at sea, they are more economically efficient in the long term.

“The traditional view is that the cost of offshore wind becomes increasingly expensive as turbines are located in deeper water, due to the additional costs of supporting traditional turbine structures,” said ETI chief executive Dr David Clarke.

“The cost of foundations does get more expensive as you go into deeper water, but the wind speeds in much of the UK’s deep water are significantly stronger and more consistent, which results in a more reliable and higher energy output. Over time, this more than outweighs the additional foundation costs and gives an overall lower cost of energy.”

So, the end conclusion of this feasibility study was very simply that floating wind turbines are both technically and economically feasible.

Two more floating wind turbine feasibility studies are currently being conducted. One, the Nova Project, is looking at the potential to use innovative offshore vertical axis wind turbines. The other, the Helm Wind Project, is looking into the viability of making changes to the basic design of offshore wind farms.

Once these feasibility studies are completed, ETI may look into funding demonstration projects.

Offshore wind energy looks like it might get a big boost from these UK studies. Hopefully, it won’t be long before decision-makers drop offshore oil drilling and just focus their offshore efforts on clean wind energy.

Photo Credit: qayaq via flickr under a CC license


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Zachary Shahan

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