World's first floating wind turbine inaugurated in Norway

The Norwegian energy company Statoil has begun operation of the first full-size Hywind floating wind turbine at a location 10 kilometres off the Norwegian coast. What is remarkable about this turbine is that it is floating in the water, rather than being rigidly attached to the ocean floor.

In fact, this turbine can be found in the depths of the sea, where a 100m long steel cylinder, weighing 3,000 tonnes thanks to 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.

So-called slack anchors are used, allowing the structure to move with the seas. In fact, in spite of its apparent sturdiness, the 138 tonne turbine is constantly moving.

Everything below the water line is known technology from the oil and gas industry, where StatoilHydro has 30 years of experience from its extensive offshore operations around the world.

Turbines pinned to the sea-bed are relatively cheap in water depths of up to 25m, when the basic monopole foundation can be used. At greater depths of up to 50m, the tubular turbine towers will need gravity bases and stronger steel structures that push the price up.

Statoil's floating turbine requires the waters to be at least 120m deep, though beyond that the sea is the limit. The Hywind demonstration unit will operate for a period of at least two years. The objective is to gain knowledge on practical aspects of the operation and maintenance of floating offshore windmills.

Source: Hydro-International