Floating wind turbines are quite a popular concept. On the one hand, I think people simply like when large human-made technologies and constructions float — it’s so counter how things typically are in our world. More pragmatically, floating wind turbines are exciting because they could allow us to harness much more energy from the strong and consistent winds above the deep sea, and they can skirt the NIMBY concerns of residents who somehow don’t like the look of wind turbines. Additionally, removing the need for expensive, difficult-to-construct foundations could potentially save a lot of money.
So, the news that the UK and US are now working together to advance floating wind turbine technology is sure to excite a lot of people.
“Floating wind turbines are to be the initial focus of a new agreement between Britain and the United States this week as international talks convene in London to accelerate the deployment of clean energy technologies,” the UK’s Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) wrote on Monday.
“The UK and US will agree to collaborate in the development of floating wind technology designed to generate power in deep waters currently off limits to conventional turbines but where the wind is much stronger.”
The UK is a clear leader in offshore wind energy, and it has plenty of potential to be even more of one. Here’s more from the DECC on this:
The UK benefits from a third of Europe’s offshore wind potential, has more installed offshore wind than any other country, the biggest pipeline of projects and is rated year after year by Ernst & Young as the most attractive market among investors.
Exploiting this economically, particularly in deeper waters off the west of the country, will require significant technology developments to build large offshore wind arrays. Much of the deeper waters between 60 and 100 metres are too deep for fixed structures but benefit from consistently higher wind speeds.
Floating wind technologies could therefore open up new areas off the coast of the UK. This will ultimately increase the potential of this sector, particularly post 2020 as the available shallow water sites are developed, and will help to meet our decarbonisation and energy security targets.
Intelligent, long-term thinking — such a relief in this day and age. Specifically, this is what the DECC notes is in the works and being invested at the moment:
In the UK, the Energy Technologies Institute is currently in the process of commissioning a £25m offshore wind floating system demonstrator. Participants chosen to take part in the project will be tasked with the objective of producing by 2016 an offshore wind turbine that can produce 5-7MW. Selection of the organisation to deliver the project is ongoing and an announcement on who will be carrying out the project on behalf of the ETI is expected early next year. The ETI is also currently investigating various sites that could host the demonstrator and has announced that it is working with WaveHub, 16 kilometres north east of St Ives off the Cornish coast to carry out a site feasibility study.
In the US, the Department of Energy have recently announced a $180m funding opportunity for up to four Advanced Technology Demonstration Projects in US waters – which potentially could include a floating wind demonstration.
For more information, check out the DECC page on this US–UK floating wind turbine partnership and more.
Image Credit: qayaq
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