Low Cost Deep Water Floating Wind Turbines

Norwegian startup World Wide Wind to test their lower cost deep water capable floating wind turbine prototype.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Norwegian startup World Wide Wind to test their lower cost deep water capable floating wind turbine prototype. Image World Wide Wind.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

World Wide Wind to test their low cost, deep water capable, floating wind turbine.

A Norwegian cleantech venture is preparing to deploy a radical floating wind turbine prototype signaling winds of change for offshore renewable power. Oslo-based World Wide Wind recently secured permits to assess its novel vertical axis turbine design at a marine site off Norway’s southwest coast. Differing fundamentally from conventional horizontal axis giants dotting ocean horizons today, the advancing technology targets deeper waters where rotating towers fixed rigidly to the seafloor remain challenging.

Promising simplicity and savings, the unconventional model will soon be challenged by strong winds and storms along Norway’s Vats coastline. Evaluating stability and energy generation in the North Sea environment provides inevitable reality checks for the nascent floating architecture. However, successful trials could propel a lightweight, economical platform for wind farms in regions of the ocean beyond the reach of current infrastructure. Founder Stian Valentin Knutsen even ventures his streamlined vision may spur a ‘Tesla moment’ launching floating wind’s breakthrough into mainstream renewable markets.

See also: Floating Vertical Axis Wind Turbines.

Rather than relying on massive stationary pillars with a wind generator on top, World Wide Wind’s floating wind turbine features a vertical driveshaft fitted with dual power-generating blades centered underwater. A weighted ballast keeps the entire apparatus upright like a bobber while allowing it to swivel leeward freely with wave action. Mooring cables maintain position despite currents that stymie many floating predecessors. This simplified design aims to enhance durability while eliminating immense equipment and construction efforts that inhibit competitors.

The initial prototype model can crank out a respectable 30 kilowatts yet projects just 19 meters skyward. But beyond proving electricity flows, constructing and testing the floating wind turbine prototype confirms profits can flow, too. Partners contend that expanding to commercial-scale turbines churning over 1.5 megawatts of sizes similar to oil platform proportions could significantly slash floating wind power production costs within this decade. Such benchmarks could make deep water wind energy economical enough to supplement growing onshore and nearshore demand as climate-safe power needs accelerate.

While wind farms have emerged as a leading renewable electricity pillar in recent years, viable sites remain confined to relatively shallow coastal shelves or lake regions with depths not surpassing 35 meters. Experts estimate at least 80% of available global offshore wind resources occupy waters exceeding 60-meter depths, placing them far beyond the reach of wind turbines that are rigidly fixed to the seabed.

These deeper ocean sites, like those surrounding highly populated coastal regions in Europe, East Asia, and North America, represent largely untapped potential amidst the rapid growth of floating wind turbine technology as a feasible renewable energy solution. However, most existing floating wind methods have faced issues in scaling up efficiently and competing on cost with established onshore and shallow coastal wind power.

This is why new radical designs like World Wide Wind’s lighter, vertical-axis floating wind turbine are seen as potential breakthroughs. They aim to unlock wind power potential across vast ocean expanses covering over 70% of Earth’s surface. The demand for accelerating renewable sources to displace reliance on coal, oil, and gas rapidly means floating wind turbines could play a major role in tackling the climate crisis and providing sustainable energy access to coastal cities worldwide. Innovators now strive to tap this boundless open ocean potential as pressures mount to expand clean energy.

With inaugural open sea trails soon gauging iterative improvements required before commercialization, Knutsen is convinced their pared-down floating wind turbine framework constitutes the lower cost advance wind development needs. The new, post-Russian oil and gas energy landscape in Europe demonstrates that smoothing the adoption of green technologies often hinges on reducing costs while optimizing efficiency and reliability.

If Norway’s novel vertical axis turbine can harness deep water locations for energy access and affordability, it may help spark a sea change for solutions harnessing previously untapped offshore wind riches.

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