Deep knowledge to support floating turbines
As the offshore wind industry edges closer to installing large-scale floating wind farms, it’s crucial that designs are cost-effective and safe in deep seas. Mike Case, our lead for clean energy, examines how existing marine modelling knowhow can tackle technical challenges and help make these huge structures more affordable.
Floating wind power is on course to become an essential part of the renewables mix, as the additional power generated by installing turbines in deeper seas will be key in meeting carbon reduction targets. Small-scale installations have proved that floating wind works as a concept, and many countries are now seeking to ramp up their activities to the GW scale. For instance, the UK and Scottish governments announced substantial investments in floating wind projects last month.
Floating offshore wind offers the advantage over fixed bottom turbines of not needing a suitable continental shelf, making wind power an option for those countries without access to shallow waters. Even countries with suitable water depths for fixed bottom installations are finding that space is becoming constrained with competing interests from shipping, fishing, defence and increasing concerns over the cumulative ecological impacts of multiple large scale windfarms in close proximity to each other.
Another benefit of deep seas are that the winds there are typically stronger, less turbulent and more consistent, offering improved capacity factors. Larger turbines will also be possible as the visual impact from the coast will be much reduced due to the distance from shore.