Try to imagine a wind turbine floating in the middle of the ocean, much higher than the Statue of Liberty. Indeed, imagine many.
General Electric has released plans for a new concept that could transform the future of renewables. The energy giant proposes the development and commercial construction of floating wind farms capable of expanding offshore wind development even in deep ocean areas. The details have been released in a corporate blog post.
Such a gigantic undertaking makes you think: can a floating wind turbine survive the "turbulence" in the middle of the ocean?
A 12 MW wind turbine for an offshore platform
Floating wind turbines are colossal structures proposed to exploit more than two-thirds of the surface covered by water to generate energy, but the plans have always proved too expensive. Especially because they should float in the ocean, the scene of great waves and very strong winds.
Yes, it really is a tough undertaking. But apparently General Electric has decided to tackle it.
So far, the company has already raised $ 3 million in awards from the US Department of Energy to build the first floating wind turbine. It started construction on the pilot project in 2020, and if it proves that its design is feasible it will move on to the real prototype.
Wind turbine floating in the oceans - easier said than done
I'll use the words of Rogier Blom, the main project manager. “Build a floating wind turbine that can harvest energy from the oceans, ”says Blom,“ it's like putting a bus on a tall pole, making it float and then stabilizing it while interacting with the wind and waves ”. The design itself is no different from the others, except for the floating platform (you said nothing). A platform that must be able to "compensate" for the crazy fluctuations of waves and winds.
Where the waters aren't that deep it's easier
Another company, the SolarDuckrecently launched a floating offshore energy harvesting system on a Dutch river. The project is very different from that of GE, and foresees a flat triangular platform covered with solar panels.
Far from the equator, however, the conditions are very different. The gusts of wind reach insane levels, with which GE's concept could prove more profitable than floating PV platforms. The secret? The wind turbine would be anchored to the sea floor by means of adjustable “tendons”. The system would identify incoming wind and wave activity by adjusting the lengths of the tendons in real time, to give the giant platform a way to steer even the most turbulent waves.