Weren’t we just saying that the floating wind turbine market is on the verge of breaking through into the big time? Yep, that would be yesterday’s CleanTechnica rundown of global developments in floating wind turbines, including the US, UK, Scotland, Portugal, Japan, and Germany.
It looks like we’ll already have to update our list of floating wind turbine hotspots, because late last week the French wind turbine company Alstom also announced that it was going to lock lips with its fellow corporate citizen DCNS, the naval and marine energy powerhouse, in a new partnership to get a six-megawatt, market-ready floating wind turbine into the water by 2017.
US Stands To Gain From French Floating Wind Turbine Success
The success of the new mashup could be huge news for the US offshore wind energy market. Among other things that we were saying yesterday, the US offshore wind energy industry has just finished giving itself a massive group hug over its long-awaited leap from renewable energy wallflower to prom queen, but that’s virtually all due to progress along the inner Atlantic coast, in relatively shallow water.
Virtually nothing has been done along the Pacific coast, even though wind conditions there are more favorable for wind farms. That’s because the only suitable sites are primarily located in deep waters that require floating technology.
Getting that technology into US waters would open up the Pacific coast, and it would potentially add additional sites for wind farm development along the Atlantic coast.
Wind conditions along the Gulf coast are generally less optimal than the Pacific or Atlantic so we’ll skip over that for now. The important thing is, if the US could fully exploit Atlantic coast wind energy that alone would be enough to provide for about one-third of the country by population.
The US is already halfway to deepwater offshore wind, as it turns out. For the Alstom-DCNS partnership, Alstom will contribute its Haliade 150 direct drive offshore wind turbine, which is already being deployed to construct the new Block Island shallow water wind farm off Rhode Island.
Alstom’s direct drive turbines are also slated for a wind turbine farm off the Virginia coast. The project is one of a trio of new offshore wind projects funded by the Energy Department, in order to demonstrate new cost-effective technologies for the offshore wind industry.
Getting Your Floating Offshore Wind Turbine To Float
With Alstom taking care of the turbine end, DCNS is covering the platform. This is where things also start to get interesting in terms of the US wind energy market, namely where the US Navy is concerned.
Here at CleanTechnica we’ve been loading up the tubes with tons of articles about the Navy’s renewable energy ventures and climate action advocacy, which Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has been pushing aggressively, unabashedly, and more aggressively.
DCNS is tuned into the same wavelength, from the corporate side. The company is a major naval defense contractor with a load of experience under its belt and it has turned a considerable amount of attention to marine renewable energy in recent years. The company describes its values thusly:
The sea is this planet’s future. We are inventing high-tech solutions to sustainably secure and develop its potential. In line with our vision 2020+, our values guide our interaction with our clients and colleagues as well as with the group’s partners and shareholders.
Among the company’s marine renewable energy ventures are tidal energy projects through its subsidiary OpenHydro as well as ocean thermal energy conversion and wave energy.
As for the partnership with Alstom, DCNS is apparently planning on deploying its semisubmersible deepwater WINFLO floating wind turbine platform design, which resembles an inverted three-legged stool.
Among other innovations, WINFLO is designed to be released from its moorings and towed closer to shore for maintenance or upgrade, which could generate enormous savings in terms of labor costs and crew safety.
The Navy hasn’t yet turned its attention to offshore wind power — wave power seems to be more of a thing so far — but don’t be surprised if the DCNS connection puts some new ideas into Secretary Mabus’s head.
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