Jul 21 2012

Deepwater Horizons

Published by under Student blog entries

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06D4LvU-CG8[/youtube]Adaptation of oil rig technology leads to floating platforms for offshore wind farms

Offshore wind turbines have long been at the forefront of the ocean energy conversation for two reasons; wind-energy devices have been used for hundreds of years, and the available wind resource is far higher offshore than on.

Wind turbines have been used to produce electricity since the late 19th century. Despite great changes in blade design and generator efficiency since the 1800’s, the technology currently used in offshore wind farms is very similar to the technology used in onshore wind farms. Pilings are driven into the ground and turbines are anchored on top. This places limitations on the potential locations of wind farms because the turbines must be in shallow enough water for pilings to be driven into the ground. But the open ocean wind energy resource is greater than the near-shore energy resource (view this dynamic map from the weather channel http://www.weather.com/maps/activity/boatbeach/northeastuscoastalwinds_large.html?clip=undefined&region=undefined&collection=localwxforecast&presname=undefined), and deep, cooler waters near shore result in a greater sea breeze for near-shore energy generation.

Placing wind turbines in deeper water could allow for untapped, and potentially stronger and more consistent, wind resources to be tapped into. Statoil, the Norwegian State Oil Company is developing a floating wind turbine that can be moored in deep waters. “Hywind” the 2.3 MW prototype anchored in the North Sea in 200m of water, represents a five-fold increase in the water depth to which wind turbines have been installed.

Hywind is only six miles off the coast of Norway, but the 200m depth of the water had previously prevented proper development of wind farms.

Initial successes exceeded expectations, and Statoil is now looking to construct a pilot farm offshore the US or UK. More information can be found at their website:


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