Wind energy is the fastest growing energy source in the world, and this is without us being close to reaching the full potential of where we can harness this renewable source of energy.
Floating offshore wind turbines and farms are one such technology that could allow us to access even higher, stronger wind than traditional fixed offshore turbines.
OFFSHORE VS FLOATING OFFSHORE WIND
So why should we be excited by floating versions of the offshore wind turbines we already have? Well, there are several benefits to having a turbine that floats, over one that stays in place:
• With floating turbines, we can go further out into the sea, as we don’t need to stay in shallow water where the base of traditional wind turbines need to reach. The floating turbines are tethered (tied with a rope) to the bottom of the sea.
• Being further out in the sea means stronger winds, and no buildings or other obstacles in the way to lessen the power of the wind available. For us in the UK, the quality of wind available is huge!
• As the turbines are not fixed to the ground, they can be easily moved around by tow boats. This makes them easily moved around to other potential sites or towed in and out for maintenance.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR FLOATING WIND?
Research and development is still going on to make sure offshore floating wind farms are a good addition to not only the UK’s energy mix but the rest of the world.
The technology used for these kind of turbines is helped by the technology used by the oil and gas industry, who have decades of experience in creating machinery that can withstand deep water and the harsh conditions that come with it.
There is already a floating offshore wind farm planned for off the coast of Scotland at Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. The technology that will be used has been tested off the course of Norway since 2009. It’s a practice farm, so that any problems can be ironed out before more farms are built elsewhere. The Hywind project could power up to 20,000 homes, with its five 6MW turbines floating in 100m deep water.