Published on April 24th, 2012 | by Joshua S Hill3
Great Lakes Could be Home to Floating Wind Turbines
April 24th, 2012 by Joshua S Hill
Some residents on the shores of Lake Michigan don’t want turbines cluttering up their views, so they put a stop to the Scandia Offshore Wind project set for the waters of Lake Michigan in Oceana and Mason Counties. Now, however, new floating turbine technology could bring a wind farm to the waters of Lake Michigan without raising the ire of such residents; by placing them beyond sight.
“I get it … I understand how waterfront property owners feel about turbines in front of their houses,” said Charles Nordstrom, the senior engineer on the Glosten Associates PelaStar project who grew up on the shores of Lake Erie. “The Scandia project had a chilling effect on offshore wind in the Great Lakes. With PelaStar, we are going to melt that chill.”
The PelaStar floating wind turbine platforms are made by The Glosten Associates, a Seattle-based engineering group focused on marine technology. Together with Grand Valley State University and Michigan Technological University, Glosten is seeking federal funding for initial engineering and design of their floating turbine technology.
The technology would allow for wind turbines to be placed on Lake Michigan where they would not be visible from shore.
“With offshore wind, 80 percent of the problem is visibility, which is a big issue,” said Arn Boezaart, MAREC director and member of the former Michigan Offshore Wind Council. “This is technology that wants to be in deep water, not near shore.”
The PelaStar technology has been in development for six years and has been tank tested, but Glosten want to now install full-scale prototypes to continue testing.
The platform on which the turbine is installed is highly buoyant and is held in place by “tendons” which are attached to the lake or sea bottom with anchors. The buoyant base which wants to rise and the tension created as it is pulled down creates a technology that is good at staying upright. “The wind turbine will always stay vertical and it performs as if it was anchored,” Nordstrom said.
An initial letter of intent has been sent to federal energy officials and must now be followed up with a final proposal by May 31. Boezaart said federal decisions on funding should be announced in the Fall.
“The consortium is looking for partners to help finance the project,” Boezaart said. “The federal government eventually wants a prototype designed, engineered and in the water.”
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