Floating Wind Farm Feasibility Study Launched in Cornwall (UK)

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A floating wind farm feasibility study has been launched off the coast of Cornwall in the UK.

The new study will try to determine if a popular wave energy test site off the coast of Cornwall (or, to be more specific, Hayle) is a good location for a floating wind farm demonstration project. The feasibility study is being conducted by the UK’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI). The research hub where the testing will occur is the world’s largest wave energy test site (Wave Hub) — it was completed in 2010.

“We have a particular advantage in that the offshore grid infrastructure and onshore substation are already in place, and we also have a team that has experience of managing the design, consent and installation of offshore energy projects,” Wave Hub general manager, Claire Gibson, said.

“We clearly need to consult with a wide range of groups and other sea users about this opportunity and this forms an important part of the study.”

If the study leads to a go-ahead for the project, ETI and Wave Hub will start by installing one floating wind turbine and then evaluating its performance.

“The concept for the floating platforms is to be able to access near-to-shore, high wind speed sites off the west coast of the UK, which would bring down the cost of generating electricity, so the Wave Hub site offers some interesting possibilities,” Dr. David Clarke, ETI’s chief executive, said.

Floating Wind Turbines — A Nascent Technology

Floating wind farms, from Fukushima to Malta to Portugal, are in the news more and more these days, but they’re still a relatively young technology and much needs to be done to better understand how to make them more efficient, more cost-effective, and more competitive with onshore or non-floating offshore wind farms. I know we’ve got at least one reader who is highly critical of current designs. We’ll see where this project leads and keep you updated as the news rolls in.

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Source: BBC | Image: Floating wind turbines via qayaq

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5 thoughts on “Floating Wind Farm Feasibility Study Launched in Cornwall (UK)

  • Good post.

    There is Energy Island concept was proposed by Dominic Michaelis.
    The Energy Island would have an OTEC plant at its center, but spread across the 2,000-foot-wide (600-meter-wide) platform will have wind turbines and solar collectors. Additionally, wave energy converters and sea current turbines would capture energy from water moving around the structure.
    The principle reason to build an Energy Island is to harvest OTEC. “The advantage of OTEC over other marine energy technologies is that it’s constant, 24 hours a day and all year round,” According to Michaelis.
    This is because it is based not on the sun or the wind or the waves, but on the temperature difference between warm water at the sun-heated surface and cold water in the deep, dark ocean.
    The biggest temperature differences can be found in tropical seas, where the surface water is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius).
    This warm water is drawn in from around the Energy Island and used to evaporate a working fluid, which might be seawater or ammonia. The resulting vapor pushes a turbine that produces electricity.
    To condense the vapor back to fluid, cold water at about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) is pumped up from a half mile below the surface. This condensation creates a pressure drop that helps suck more vapor through the turbine blades.
    The same basic process occurs in a coal-fired or nuclear power plant, but the temperature difference between water boilers and cooling towers is much greater than in an OTEC system.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India
    E-mail: anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com

    • The Energy Island has a potential fatal flaw.

      Wind turbines create considerable turbulence. Studies of wind farms have found that in most cases turbines need to be spaced further apart than they have been up to now. Clustering a bunch of turbines together on one small structure could greatly decrease turbine output.

      Solar panels at sea? Have we run out of rooftops, landfills, brownfields, parking lots and burned out ag land?

      Salt water is really hard on electrics and these panels would be right down close to the water. Salt evaporated on the panel surface could cut performance. (The panels on my sailboat needed to be washed off frequently.)

      The idea of harvesting electricity by using the temperature differential between surface and deep water is interesting. Let’s see if someone can make competitively priced electricity that way.

      The Energy Island, to me, is an attempt to cram too much stuff into one space.

  • I agree with the one commenter about the spacing of horizontal axis turbines on the Energy Island concept. However, work currently being done on vertical axis turbines seems to indicate that they might work better when closely spaced as opposed to widely spaced. Thus, these might be a good fit for and energy island type of installation.

    As far as solar, yeah, putting it at see is silly at this time. There’s lots of spaces on land were those can be planted and yield the dual benefits of shade and power.

    • I want to see some data that proves closely spaced vertical turbines perform better than more widely spaced turbines. Conceptually, I’ve got problems with that. I can’t see how an upwind turbine might work to concentrate wind for a downwind turbine.

      I can be convinced by quality data.

      If vertical wind turbine are in some way superior I would expect to see them being installed.

      Verticals might be a better choice if overall wind farm land was expensive. But typically wind farms lease the turbine footprint land, not every square foot.

      Vertical is not a new concept, some very large ones were installed at Altamont over 30 years ago. A lot of money has gone into turbine design. Horizontals are the technology in use.

      Another issue with verticals is tower height. The good, clean wind is seldom close to the surface but tens of meters up higher. Horizontal wind turbines are easy to ‘furl’ in high wind conditions, it could be harder to design a vertical that was easy to park in heavy storm conditions.

  • Why not build two turbines within one nacelle? A 2 blade up wind and 3 blade down wind of larger diameter could theoretically double the juice from one platform. The down wind drag would direct the turbine into the wind.
    Offshore means the biggest cost is supporting the turbine, not the turbine itself so getting the most power from each costly foundation is key.
    I’m a big proponent of the 2 blade turbine. It can be just as efficient and much easier to install. An on-board computer would keep both turbines in the optimum position in relation to each other.

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