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article imageFloating wind turbines — the next generation of wind-farms

By Robert Myles     Apr 24, 2013 in Environment
Brest - French companies Nass & Wind and naval defence contractor DCNS recently presented details of their next generation floating wind turbine development programme at the Thetis Marine Renewable Energy show held in Brest on April 10 and 11.
During 2012, advances were made by the DCNS/Nass & Wind joint venture towards perfecting the design phase of a Winflo floating wind turbine demonstration module along with their French partners Vergnet Eolien, Ifremer — the French Research Institute for the Exploration of the Sea, and the engineering school ENSTA Bretagne. WINFLO is an acronym for 'Wind turbine with innovative design for floating lightweight offshore'.
The next stage will be to roll out sea-going trials of the Winflo design on the testing grounds at the wave and wind energy park situated off the coast of the busy fishing port of Le Croisic in Loire-atlantique department on France’s Atlantic Coast.
This challenging project, involving a switch away from fixed position wind-farms as well as offering greater flexibility and better economics for future wind-farm development, will see the test-bed model sited in water depths of up to 35 metres, buffeted by a high energy swell and operating with a limited anchorage radius.
DCNS says production of the Winflo floating wind turbine is scheduled to commence later in 2013. When the first on-site installations take place off the France’s Brittany coast in 2014, Winflo will be the first floating turbine in French waters.
The aim is to put France in the forefront in the development of floating wind turbine technology leading to a high level of export sales as more and more countries exploit wind-power as part of their renewable energy mix.
According to Nass & Wind, the international market for offshore wind-farm hardware and services offers great scope for expansion and exploiting floating wind turbine technology provides a number of advantages.
Aside from offshore wind-farms being largely less obtrusive than their land based counterparts, the benefits of using floating technology for electricity generation include:
• Sourcing stronger and more stable wind regimes
• Higher social acceptability
• Simpler installation than fixed, sea-floor based wind turbine towers
• Faster commissioning of new wind-farms
Nass & Wind also estimate that the potential demand for floating wind-farms is as much as three times greater than for conventional sea-floor mounted wind turbines.
The Winflo project has been entirely conceived in France’s ancient Celtic province of Brittany in the extreme north-west of the country. It was one of the first five projects to receive funding under the French government’s investment for the future programme.
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