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Latest Newsletter - Issue 11

Floating challenge for offshore wind turbine

As the NIMBY arguments rage on against the location of future wind farms a Norwegian energy company - StatoilHydro may have come up with a solution – floating offshore wind turbines.

Statoil has constructed the world's first full-scale floating wind turbine in the hope that one day vast wind farms could be constructed far offshore in water depths of up to 700m. This is a trial – albeit a very expensive one – to test how robust the turbine is against North Sea winter storms and, more importantly, whether the infrastructure supporting this turbine can continue to service the site in, what will be, the most extreme of conditions.

The turbine stands 100m above the sea but the most interesting aspect is what we can’t see – below sea level. A 100m long steel cylinder weighing 3,000 tonnes because of its ballast of water and rocks is anchored to the sea-bed with mooring lines that can hold the structure at depths of up to 700m.

Slack anchors are used to keep the turbine in place yet still allow the structure to move with the seas so, in effect the 138 tonne turbine is constantly moving.

The turbine will be tested over a two-year period, at the end of which it is hoped that offshore wind farms will be found to be viable and equally as competitive as conventional offshore wind turbines.

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