News & Views

Wind Turbines That Float

By Mark Norfolk on Monday, May 24th, 2010


It is not a secret that offshore wind has a huge potential in the United States.  Many of the areas of land that have sufficient wind resources are located significantly far from population centers.  Thus, it is less efficient to produce wind energy in these locations due to the long distances that it must be transmitted to the end users.   As the map above shows, offshore wind resources are enormous and are conveniently located close to large urban areas of electricity consumption.  Unfortunately, putting turbines offshore requires very shallow waters as most turbines are placed at the top of very large static towers.  This leaves a large percentage of prime wind area unavailable for turbine installation.
Last week I met with one of EWI’s member companies, Nautica Windpower, that has a unique solution to this challenge.  They have developed a floating tower structure that moves with the water and requires significantly less structure.  These floating towers can be installed in deep water where higher wind speeds yield increased energy.  By eliminating the foundation structure under the water they are also cheaper to produce. They have even been designed to withstand hurricane force winds.  It is this type of innovative thinking that will help propel our move to more sustainable energy production.

AFT scale testing of a floating wind turbine
Posted by Mark Norfolk

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