US and UK Collaborate on Floating Wind Turbines
UK-US government investment is set to be a driving force in new floating wind turbine technology.
UK energy secretary Edward Davey announced that a collaborative investment effort will be made to build a number of experimental floating wind turbines.
The collaboration agreement
was announced by Davey before the Clean Energy Ministerial, the third annual meeting of government ministers from 23 countries.
The floating turbine technology is expected to kick-start the expansion of offshore wind power-generation into waters currently too deep for traditional fixed-turbines.
UK waters have a third of Europe's offshore wind potential, however depths of 60 to 100 meters mean that many areas are unfeasible for fixed structures. Floating turbines would make it possible to harness these fast and consistent winds.
The structures would float on the surface of the ocean and be tethered at three points to the seabed.
According to a Guardian
article, the government believes installation and maintenance expenses of current offshore turbines could be cut with the new technology.
Installing the turbines will be cheaper as they don't require piles or platforms to be driven into the sea bed. The turbines could be towed into port for maintenance instead of crews having to work at sea.
The technology is currently in the final stages of testing at Norway's Hywind project
, an experimental floating turbine six miles off the Norwegian coast.
The Hywind project is the world's first full-scale floating wind turbine.
It has generated 15 megawatt hours of energy since 2010.
A significant concern being tested with the Hywind floating platform is how the design will withstand heavy seas.
The agreement signals a major milestone in continuing the drive to make wind energy more feasible
The US currently has around 46,916 MW
installed capacity of wind power infrastructure, the UK has around 6632 MW
Floating wind turbines were among a number of clean energy initiatives discussed at the Clean Energy Ministerial, including the Electric Vehicles Initiative case study report
. The report looked at the progress of electric vehicles thus far, with data spanning nine countries.