Floating wind turbines can open wide ocean tracts for renewable energy

IFive miles[575 m]above sea level, five floating ocean turbines line the North Sea, 15 miles off the coast of Aberdeennshire. The 30-megawatt plant, operated by Norwegian company Ekoror, has been the world’s first floating wind farm since 2017 but has broken British records for electricity output.

Most coastal wind turbines have a depth of about 165ft and are floating on the ocean floor, while floating turbines are attached to ships. These huge structures were piled on the ground and dragged into the sea by boats.

The ability to install turbines in deep waters where the winds are stronger opens up vast amounts of ocean energy to generate renewable energy – about 80% of the coastal wind power is in deep waters. In addition, keeping floating turbines away from the beach helps to avoid conflicts with those who oppose their impact on beach views.

Floating winds are still in the early stages – a total of 32 gigabytes (0.25%) of offshore wind turbines has flown only 80 megawatts. But some experts say that if new technology can overcome obstacles, including cost, design, and challenges from the fishing industry, renewable integration could be an important part.

When it comes to coastal winds, the United States has traditionally lagged behind Europe, but that may be changing. A.D.

Safe winds and relatively shallow waters on the east coast of the United States, such as the Martha Vineyard, have recently made it a popular target for large-scale wind farms such as coastal wind projects, with plenty of water on the west coast. Deep for stationary turbines. This is where he hopes to see the wind blow.

In May, Biden’s administration and California Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans to bring a floating sea breeze to California. It has two stations: about 400 square miles northwest of Moro Bay, 380 floating wind turbines and another north of Hambolt Bay. Together, these projects can generate up to 4.6GW of pure power to grid enough to power 1.6M homes.

“[The announcement] It was a real breakthrough, ”said Adam Stern, executive director of the Beach Wind California Business Association. In California, where daily effects of climate change are seen in wildfires and droughts, coastal winds can provide clean and reliable electricity to millions of California residents, he said.

The International Energy Agency estimates that it will need to add 390 gigabytes of wind energy (80GW off the coast) annually between 2030 and 2050 to keep the world on the path to carbon neutrality by 2050.

A.D. By 2020, the coastal wind industry, which has a new capacity of more than 6GW, is a big jump from current numbers. But as costs go down and countries look to avoid fossil fuels to meet climate change goals, wind power is growing.

It is unclear how many floating winds will be blown in. Countries, including Norway, Portugal, South Korea and Japan, are installing or planning floating wind projects, with an estimated capacity of more than 26GW.

“Going to zero is a big part of the solution,” said Michael Weber, an energy expert and engineering professor at the University of Austin, Texas. But he believes it will take time to forecast the rising tide and forecast the prevailing winds in the coming decades.

Of course, major obstacles remain. The cost is significant. Floating wind turbines cost twice as much as regular coastal winds, although these are expected to fall as technology advances and supply chains improve. Researchers estimate that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) floating turbine projects could be cost-effective with its permanent lower-level counterparts by 2030.

One twist is the number of designs for mounting floating turbines, which some experts believe makes it difficult to reduce costs.

Three Floating Wind Turbine Designs: Spa, Semisberbill and Stress Legs
The three main floating wind turbine designs include the Spar-Bui (left), the semicircle (center) and the stress leg platforms (right). Photograph – Joshua Bauer / NREL

There are three main designs. Spar-Bui: The design of Highland Floating Turbines in Scotland: It has a long, heavy cylinder tube under the turbine and the ocean floor to maintain balance. The most common semi-underground platforms for installed and planned projects are modular and floating cylinder structures protected by curved lines. The stress-leg structure is attached to the sea floor by stretched lines.

“I really can’t figure out how many concepts there are,” said Poen Cheng, head of wind power at the University of Stuttgart in Germany. “Ford didn’t make the car affordable for the general public by making 30 different types of cars – they made the model T, we really can’t tolerate many different concepts if we want to lower the price,” he said.

Parts of the fishing industry have also expressed concern that the wind could interfere with their equipment, disrupt fishing grounds and negatively affect their livelihoods.

Part of Portugal wind turbines floating on the shores of Vienna do Castello.
Part of Portugal wind turbines floating on the shores of Vienna do Castello. Photograph – Hugo Amharic / Sopa Images / Rex / Shutstortock

The University of Maine, the first floating highway in the United States, may be developing a 12-megawatt display project for RW Renew and Mitsubishi sub-diamond beach wind.

The turbines have faced strong opposition from lobster fishermen who claim to be interfering with their business. They reached an agreement in July – the pilot project will continue, but the state legislature has approved new industrial wind projects in government waters until March 2031.

Fishermen have also sounded the alarm about California projects. In a May statement on the storm, Mike Conroy, executive director of the Pacific Coast Fishermen’s Association, said: “There are not many questions about the impact on marine life.”

Coastal Wind Research NREL leader Walt Museum said that even large-scale offshore winds on the east or west coast will take up only a small portion of the ocean and turbines will be stored carefully. But he stressed the need for continued good relations “to ensure good co-existence and for the fishing community to practice and gain a foothold in fishing turbines.”

The California government expects to lease business to Moro Bay and Humbolt Bay next year. Stern floating on the coast is expected to create thousands of well-paid clean energy projects in the state, as well as accelerate the retirement of natural gas plants, and reduce pollution in communities that do not bear the brunt of environmental impact.

“There are many challenges to operating wind turbines in American waters, but there is no doubt about that,” said Poen Cheng.

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