Thursday, May 22, 2008

StatoilHydro to build first full scale offshore floating wind turbine

StatoilHydro has decided to build the world’s first full scale floating wind turbine, Hywind, and test it over a two-year period offshore Karmøy. The The company is investing approximately 400 million NOK. Planned startup is autumn 2009.

The project combines known technology in an innovative way. A 2.3 MW wind turbine is attached to the top of a so-called Spar-buoy, a solution familiar from production platforms and offshore loading buoys.

“We have drawn on our offshore expertise from the oil and gas industry to develop wind power offshore,” says Alexandra Bech Gjørv, head of New Energy in StatoilHydro.

The rotor blades on the floating wind turbine will have a diameter of 80 metres, and the nacelle will tower some 65 metres above the sea surface. The floatation element will have a draft of some 100 metres below the sea surface, and will be moored to the seabed using three anchor points. The wind turbine can be located in waters with depths ranging from 120 to 700 metres.

“Taking wind turbines to sea presents new opportunities. The wind is stronger and more consistent, areas are large and the challenges we are familiar with from onshore projects are fewer,” says Alexandra Bech Gjørv.

Contracts signed
The pilot project will be assembled in Åmøyfjorden near Stavanger and is to be located some 10 kilometres offshore Karmøy in the county of Rogaland. The wind turbine itself is to be built by Siemens. Technip will build the floatation element and have responsibility for the installation offshore. Nexans will lay cables to shore, and Haugaland Kraft will be responsible for the landfall. Enova is supporting the project with 59 million NOK.

StatoilHydro is allocating in excess of 400 million NOK to building and developing the pilot, as well as research and development of the wind turbine concept. The goal of the pilot is to reduce costs so that floating wind power can compete in the power market.

“Floating wind power is not mature technology yet, and the road to commercialization and large scale development is long. An important aspect of the project is therefore research and development,” says Alexandra Bech Gjørv.

The company has entered into a technology development agreement with Siemens for the project. The wind turbines must function optimally even in large waves.

Need for further R&D
“The wind turbines must work satisfactorily even when subjected to movements, and it must also be possible to carry out necessary maintenance to the highest of safety standards,” says Bech Gjørv.

Tested in a wave tank
A three metre high model has already been tested successfully in SINTEF Marintek’s wave simulator in Trondheim. The goal of the pilot is to qualify the technology and reduce costs to a level that will mean that floating wind turbines can compete with other energy sources.

“If we succeed, then we will have taken a major step in moving the wind power industry offshore. Floating wind turbines can make a major contribution to providing the world with clean power, but there are major technical and commercial challenges that need to be resolved. If we are to succeed, we will need to cooperate closely with the authorities. As with other technologies for renewable energy, floating wind power will be dependent on incentive schemes to be viable,” says Alexandra Bech Gjørv.

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