By Steve Taggart
The cost of offshore wind power could be reduced dramatically due to floating wind turbines. They could be generating power in UK waters by 2020, much cheaper than the cost of new nuclear.
There are a number of designs in development and the race is on to prove that this floating technology can be a power source for states who have access to a coastline.
Countries would anchor wind farms near their major cities and numerous places are backing these floating power stations, including Japan, US and European countries bordering the North Atlantic and Mediterranean. Norway and Portugal are leading the way and already have successful demonstration platforms.
The structures are built of concrete, which is cheaper than steel, concrete is said to be more resistant in the marine environment, needing less maintenance and lasting for about 50 years.
The absence of joints in the platform is designed to increase its ability to withstand the effects of wind and seawater, avoiding the damage normally caused by wave action.
In the UK, Scotland has many deep sea locations close to its coasts and high wind speeds, so it is perfect for large-scale floating wind farms if they can be made competitive.
A report by the UK’s Carbon Trust on the current state of the floating wind technology market, written for the Scottish government concludes:
“Floating wind concepts have the potential to reach below £100 / MWh in commercial deployments, according to platform developers, with the leading concepts estimating even lower costs of £85-£95 / MWh, which would be competitive with fixed-bottom projects if floating wind reaches commercial scale deployment in the 2020s.”
The hope is that these floating windwindfarmsfarms can get costs down to compete with other renewables.