May 17, 2020

Floating Wind Turbines Capture Deep Sea Power

4 min
Vestas, Siemens, Statoil and others develop floating turbines to tap into offshore wind’s high deep sea power potential
To enhance your experience, read this article in our interactive virtual reader!Click Here The wind power industry is endlessly searching for the most...

To enhance your experience, read this article in our interactive virtual reader! Click Here

The wind power industry is endlessly searching for the most powerful and steady high-speed winds to generate the most electricity for the investment.  As it turns out, deep sea conditions are some of the most ideal for wind energy generation, boasting 20 to 30 percent increases in electricity generation over close-to-shore offshore installations.  The absence of land means less friction to block the wind’s path, and thus, faster more consistent wind speed.

There are several offshore wind farms that have been constructed all over the world, but they rely on bottom-mounting to the ocean floor to hold the turbines in place.  This only allows for turbines to be erected in waters of just over 100-feet-deep.  Floating wind turbines, however, offer a unique solution to access deep sea wind power, and have the added benefit of less visibility from land—a key complaint about offshore wind farms, particularly along popular tourist coastlines.

Some of the industry’s top companies, and some lesser-known, are spearheading the race to develop the ideal floating wind turbine design.  Let’s take a look at some of the most promising developments in the wind power industry’s newest and most challenging frontier. 


Blue H

Blue H Group Technologies Ltd was the first to successfully deploy an operational floating wind turbine platform.  In 2008, a Blue H prototype was installed 21 kilometers off the coast of Italy in 113-meter deep water.  The design utilized a tension-leg platform with a two-blade turbine mounted to it.  Two blades allow for a higher tip speed (wind speed that results in tilting) than three blade turbines, and in deep water locations the excess noise common to two-blade turbines poses little problem.  The company is planning to develop a 38-unit deep sea wind farm in the same location as the prototype. 


Another floating platform design, the WindFloat—designed by Principle Power—is being tested in Fall 2011.  A Vestas V80 2MW turbine will be mounted to one of three columns that comprise the platform’s triangular base.  Four stabilization cables attach to the columns—two attach the column holding the turbine.  The asymmetric mooring design increases stability and reduces motion.  Pumps also regulate water level in the column chambers, further adding to stabilization capability.  Principle Power is developing the WindFloat in a joint venture with WindPlus, and Vestas turbines are to be the standard for the overall system. 


In the North Sea off the coast of Norway rises Hywind, the world’s first large-capacity operational deepwater floating turbine.  Hywind features a 2.3-megawatt Siemens turbine mounted on a 100-meter cylinder filled with water and rocks that is attached to the ocean floor by three mooring lines.  Oil and gas technologies developer Technip developed the floating cylinder and Norweigen offshore oil and gas company Statoil owns the Hywind installation, which it has operated and monitored since 2009 as a test model for future commercialization of the floating turbine.


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Technip—the same company involved in the Hywind project—is also developing a vertical axis floating wind turbine in collaboration with Nénuphar, Converteam, EDF Energies and other partners.  The unique design is rarely seen in conventional wind farms, but may increase tip speed over traditional turbines in deep sea high-wind conditions. 


WINFLO is being designed in a collaboration between DCNS shipbuilding, SOFRESID (a subsidiary of SAIPEM oil and gas), and wind energy company NASS&WIND.  The design is a lightweight platform and high-strength turbine housing that can withstand the rough conditions in deep sea offshore environments.  WINFLO’s lightweight design will allow it to be transported to and from offshore destinations via towboat, saving time and money versus offshore assembly.  Initial designs will have a 2.5 MW capacity per unit.

Nautica Windpower

Still in the early phases of development, Nautica Windpower’s unique design offers a 75 percent weight reduction compared to competitors’ designs based on oil and gas platform technology.  Unlike the multi-chamber floating platforms being developed by WindFloat and WINFLO, Nautica Windpower’s design encourages movement instead of stressing stability.  Taking a lesson from tall-standing natural structures like trees, the company’s floating turbine actually bends with wave and wind activity.  It is also a downwind two-blade design, which reduces tip speed.  Since the design requires only one mooring line per unit, unlike competitors’ multiple lines, there is less environmental impact on the seabed as well. 


SWAY is another floating wind turbine design intended to allow for movement, as implied by the name.  Renewable energy company Sway AS has developed the SWAY design as a floating tower module that will allow buyers to mount any type of turbine to the tower’s top.  The company, however, has recently entered into a partnership with Areva-Multibrid to use its large turbines—ranging from 2.5 to 5 MW—throughout the beginning phases of development. 

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Jun 14, 2021

W3 Energy signs technical operations contract with Luxcara

Dominic Ellis
3 min
W3 Energy and Luxcara sign technical operations contract ahead of Global Wind Day tomorrow and new study showing Poland leading Europe's growth

W3 Energy has signed a contract with Luxcara for onsite technical operations management for the Önusberget wind farm, which is Europe's largest single onshore wind farm. 

The wind farm, located outside of Piteå in northern Sweden, plans to have 137 wind turbines on full installation, with an expected capacity of more than 750 MW.

W3 Energy will be responsible for onsite technical operations management and local accounting services as well as operation and maintenance of the electrical infrastructure and transformer stations.

"This contract strengthens our position as a key player in onsite technical operations management. The Önusberget wind farm is the largest single-site wind power project in Europe and we are proud that Luxcara gives us the trust to support with the operational management of their investment", says W3 Energy's COO André Sjöström.

"The contract with Luxcara is extremely important to us and means that we take a firm grip on our home region. This contract allows us to continue to grow and we plan to continue to recruit in Piteå, Umeå, and Skellefteå."

The new contract with Luxcara means that W3 Energy manages approximately 15% of the renewable energy produced in Sweden and lays the foundation for continuing to build growth in other regions.

"Luxcara is an internationally respected asset manager in renewable energy, with high-quality investment criteria and a strong focus on diversity and sustainability. We share their view on sustainability, with a strong focus on environmental as well as social and ethical aspects", stated W3 Energy's CEO Pär Dunder.

Its past engagement with W3 combined with their track record from other large projects and their local experience were decisive factors for choosing W3 Energy, according to Philip Sander, Managing Director of Luxcara.

Global Wind Day will be held tomorrow (June 15), to promote wind's potential to reshape our energy systems, decarbonise economies and boost jobs and economic growth.

Onshore wind is now the cheapest form of new power generation in most of Europe, and offshore wind is not far behind with costs having fallen over 60% in three years, according to WindEurope.

Adrian Timbus, ETIPWind Chairman, said: “Wind energy can help electrify 75% of Europe’s energy demand and thereby deliver climate neutrality by 2050. But we must prioritise the development of the necessary technologies: next generation onshore and offshore turbines, electrification solutions for transport and for industry, and electrolysers for renewable hydrogen.”

Poland leads Europe's wind growth

Poland saw Europe's biggest increase in wind turbine energy production between 2000 and 2018, according to a Save on Energy study, and produced the fourteenth highest percentage of electricity by wind power overall in 2018. 

Czechia has seen second highest percentage increase in electricity production generated by wind power. Despite having the second lowest proportion of electricity generated by wind power in 2018, the country previously produced the lowest percentage overall in 2000, so it has still seen a significant increase in wind turbine energy production over the years.

France has the third largest increase in wind turbine energy production throughout the period studied, with electricity production generated by wind power increasing from 0.009% in 2000, to 4.9% in 2018, while neighbouring Belgium experienced the fourth highest increase in wind energy production, with almost 10% of electricity produced being generated by wind power in 2018, compared to 0.02% in 2000.

Although Ukraine boasted the lowest percentage of electricity produced by wind turbines in 2018 (0.7%), the country had the fifth largest percentage increase since 2000, since only 0.003% of electricity production was generated by wind turbines.

By comparison, Denmark, Luxembourg and Spain each ranked as having the lowest percentage increases when it came to the percentage of electricity production generated by wind turbines between 2000 and 2018, and they lag considerably behind other European nations.

The EU wants wind to account for 50% of the continent's electricity by 2050. The Romanian Wind Energy Association recently launched a Code of Good Practice for renewable energy.

Top 10 countries in Europe for wind growth

1. Poland
2. Czechia
3. France
4. Belgium
5. Ukraine
6. Turkey
7. Norway
8. Austria
9. UK
10. Finland 

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