Floating turbines could expand offshore wind potential

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A new study has shown that it may be possible to use floating turbines to exploit deeper water sites off the coast of the UK where the wind speeds are both higher and more consistent to produce electricity at a similar cost to existing and proposed offshore sites.

Project Deepwater, a consortium led by Blue H with BAE Systems, the Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture (CEFAS), EDF, Romax Technology, SLP Energy and PAFA Consulting Engineers, was launched by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) in January 2009.

It looked at the feasibility and costs of generating electricity using offshore wind turbines mounted on a floating, tension legged platform, in water between 70 and 300m deep. Existing offshore wind turbines are usually mounted on fixed structures that are unsuitable for use in deeper water.

ETI chief executive Dr David Clarke said: ’The assumption has always been that the cost of installing turbines in deeper water would be too high to make economic sense but this project shows that it may be possible to open up new sites in deeper water, for example, off the west coast of the UK. The project has also identified that there is huge global potential for floating wind turbines in deep water.’