Floating Offshore Wind Turbines Examined

Seeking to make the vast potential of offshore wind power more economically viable, Denmark is leading a consortium exploring a concept that combines a vertical-axis wind turbine, new blade technology, a full power transmission and control system and a rotating, floating offshore substructure. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado is one of a dozen partners in the effort called “DeepWind.”

“Our objective is to develop more cost-effective MW wind turbines through dedicated technology rather than advancing existing concepts that are based on onshore technology,” DeepWind Project Manager Uwe Schmidt Paulsen, of the Risoe National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy at the Technical University of Denmark, said in a press release. “Offshore wind energy today is twice as expensive as onshore technologies. That means that there is plenty of room for improvement.”

DeepWind offshore wind turbine concept

image via DeepWind

DeepWind said at the heart of its concept is a long, vertical tube that rotates in the water with a vertical axis rotor at the top. Below the water level are a generator and a sea-bed fixing system. Paulsen said DeepWind intends to place a kilowatt-sized wind turbine in open waters of Roskilde Fjord near the Riso lab. The goal is to use it to design “a 5 MW concept and evaluate the prospects of an up-scaled, future 20 MW turbine.”

DeepWind is a four-year project financed by a 3 million Euro grant from Europe’s Seventh Framework Program.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.