Are Floating Turbines the Future of Offshore Wind?

Despite the fact that only a handful of nations around the world currently operate offshore wind farms of any significant size it has not stopped the rest of the world from trying to find a way that offshore wind could work best for them. Here in the United States, President Obama’s administration is carefully looking into the matter while China stands ready to take the plunge and build as many large scale offshore wind farms as they can in coming years. While the list of nations that use offshore wind technology may not be long,  with most of them being in Europe, it has not stopped companies like Vestas from continuing to improve existing technology to create the best offshore wind turbines they can.

Last week, Vestas announced that they had recently signed an agreement with the joint venture company WindPlus to deploy what they are calling a wind turbine that has been integrated into a “full-scale semi-submersible floating structure.” The platform in question, called the WindFloat, is born from the minds behind WindPlus and will be married with Vestas own wind turbine technology in order to create the floating turbine. It is designed in a such a way as to allow the semi-submersible WindFloat platform to absorb the motion created both by the ocean and the turbine itself in order to allow the placement of turbines even father off the coast than normal.

The project, which will be the first time this particular technology will be used together, will take place off the coast of Portugal and begin sometime this year. Once in place, the two teams will test the turbine for at least a year in order to determine its effectiveness and to work out any flaws that might show themselves.

If the project should prove a success, the two groups will likely set out to put the technology into production. With the ability to place floating turbines even farther out into the ocean or a body of water than usual, it frees up some of the concern many have had in certain places over the placement of turbines in shipping or fishing lanes or too close to popular tourist spots.

Photo Credit: Mr. Thomas