Floating Wind Farms
The urgent concern for global warming due to the emission of greenhouse gases has propelled scientists and engineers worldwide to search for alternate sources of renewable and clean energy. As locations for wind energy are filling up on-shore and near-shore, companies are deploying floating turbines that can be sited in deep waters. Floating wind farms consist of offshore wind turbines mounted on floating structures that allow the turbine to generate electricity in water depths.
The concept of offshore wind turbines was first introduced by Professor William E. Heronemus at the University of Massachuttes Amherst in 1972. But it was not until the mid-1990s that the commercial offshore wind industry was established. The first floating wind turbines were set up by the Blue H Technologies of the Netherlands in December 2007. An 80 kW prototype 21.3 km off the coast of Apulia, Italy, was installed in water 113 m deep to get test data on wind and sea conditions. Presently, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and the United States are currently the world leaders in wind energy technology.
Based on the design, floating wind turbines are of four types:- Spar-buoy, Tension leg platform, Semi-submersible, and Pontoon. Generally, when the water depth is shallow or moderately deep (less than 50 m) it is more economical to have bottom founded wind turbines, i.e. driven monopiles and conventional concrete gravity bases as foundations. For large depths and soft sea-beds, floating wind turbines are effective due to cheaper anchor installation than the fixed foundation. Today, most of the focus has been on fixed offshore wind turbines because of features like the easy connection of power cables from the turbine to the shore, proven technology for fixing the structure to the ground, and low induced motion due to waves, wind, and current.
The first and immediately compelling advantage of floating offshore wind turbines is access to incredible wind resources over deep waters. There are also several manufacturing advantages to floating platforms, such as using less material in construction and reducing the need for specialty marine engineering expertise. Since floating turbine platforms are designed to be assembled in port and towed into position using barges or tugboats, the cost of setting up is greatly reduced, which increases flexibility in construction. Repair and maintenance are also easy.
Opportunities in the future:-
Floating wind turbines have the potential to unlock huge offshore wind energy resources cost-effectively. These projects have been conceived for many years but only recently the technical challenges have been overcome to design them successfully. Floating wind farms will take our present generation of wind energy to the next level. With an increase in global investments and collaboration, technology is beginning to create solutions that will continue to drive down costs and improve efficiency. Wind power struggles to be economically competitive with fossil fuel generation and fossil wind turbines may be a crucial component in this effort.
WRITTEN BY:- Ayusha Barik