Wind, of all the alternative energy sources we pay attention to, requires vast areas for generation. So water has become the go-to place to place the turbines. It looks like the new race is whether to have the turbines fixed or floating:
Technology could help power a clean energy transition if it can overcome hurdles of cost, design and opposition from fishing
In the stormy waters of the North Sea, 15 miles off the coast of Aberdeenshire, in Scotland, five floating offshore wind turbines stretch 574 feet (175 metres) above the water. The world’s first floating windfarm, a 30 megawatt facility run by the Norwegian company Equinor, has only been in operation since 2017 but has already broken UK records for energy output.
While most offshore wind turbines are anchored to the ocean floor on fixed foundations, limiting them to depths of about 165ft, floating turbines are tethered to the seabed by mooring lines. These enormous structures are assembled on land and pulled out to sea by boats.
The ability to install turbines in deeper waters, where winds tend to be stronger, opens up huge amounts of the ocean to generate renewable wind power: close to 80% of potential offshore wind power is found in deeper waters. In addition, positioning floating turbines much further off the coast helps avoid conflicts with those who object to their impact on coastal views.
Floating offshore wind is still in its early stages: only about 80 megawatts of a total of about 32 gigawatts (0.25%) of installed offshore wind capacity is floating. But some experts say the relatively new technology could become an important part of the renewables mix, if it can overcome hurdles including cost, design and opposition from the fishing industry…
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