The major limitation in offshore wind farms tapping the stronger, more consistent winds that lie farther out is the depth required to install the footing for the turbine foundations. The Norway-based company Hydro is developing a new concept that would use floating concrete construction technology developed for the North Sea oil industry and apply it to offshore wind turbines, according to Renewable Energy Access reports.
Dubbed "Hywind," model testing is currently under way at Norwegian R&D institute Sintef Marintek's ocean basin laboratory in Trondheim. Hydro is using the ocean basin in Trondheim to simulate wind and wave conditions at sea.
The company is now evaluating the placement of a wind turbine in the North Sea to demonstrate that it is possible to build offshore wind parks at sea depths of 200-300 meters. The company emphasizes that Hywind will be a supplement, not a substitute to land-based wind parks, according to the report.
According to plans, the demonstration project will start operating in 2007. They eventually envision wind turbines with a power capacity of 5 MW and a rotor diameter of approximately 120 m.
Hydro has invested approximately $3 million into developing the Hywind concept over the past three years
. Further realization of research and the demonstration project will require at least another $23 million.
Source: Renewable Energy Access Online