Page last updated at 17:38 GMT, Friday, 5 June 2009 18:38 UK

Floating wind turbine launched

By Jorn Madslien
Business reporter, BBC News

Hywind wind turbine. Photo Hilde Bjelland Vik/Statoil
Floating wind turbines can help shift offshore wind farms out of sight

The world's first floating wind turbine is to be towed out to sea this weekend.

Statoil's Alexandra Beck Gjorv told the BBC the technology, the Hywind, to be put off Norway's coast - "should help move offshore wind farms out of sight".

And it could lead to offshore wind farms eventually being located many miles offshore, away from areas where they cause disruption, Ms Gjorv added.

This would benefit military radar operations, the shipping industry, fisheries, bird life and tourism.

"Taking wind turbines to sea presents new opportunities," said Ms Gjorv, of Statoil's new energy division.

"The wind is stronger and more consistent [and] areas are large."

Floating wind farms are set to be connected to mainland grids via cables across the seabed. The longer the cable, the more expensive it is, so the distance from land is not set to become unlimited, explained Ms Gjorv.

The Hywind, a 2.3 megawatt (MW) wind turbine built by Siemens, combines technologies from both the wind farming industry and the oil and gas sectors, and will be tested off the coast of Norway for two years.

In a similar way to how large parts of icebergs are hidden below the sea surface, the turbine has a 100 metre draft that is anchored to the seabed with cables, that can be up to 700 metres long.

Wealthy customers

Floating wind turbine
Hywind computer generate image
The flotation element stretches 100 metres below the sea surface
It is anchored to the seabed in three places
It can be moored in waters up to 700 metres deep

Offshore wind farms cost considerably more than wind farms on land, and initially floating ones will be more expensive than static offshore installations.

But over time, insisted Ms Gjorv, the floating turbines should not cost more than fixed ones.

Statoil plans to target markets where there is both an ability to pay as well as large and growing demand for energy, she added.

Floating wind farms could later be established off both coasts of North America and off the Iberian peninsula and the coasts of Norway and the United Kingdom, she said.

Floating wind farms could provide an additional source of energy for countries that have run out of space for their onshore wind farms, or where there is not enough wind on land, Ms Gjorv added.

"The global market for such turbines is potentially enormous, depending on how low we can press costs," she said, though she was not able to quantify it or to outline a timescale for when floating wind farms would become commercially available.

Print Sponsor

Sea turbines on stream by summer
28 May 09 |  South of Scotland
Campaigners fighting for windfarm
01 Jun 09 |  Derbyshire
Ranchers driving wind revolution
01 Jun 09 |  Science & Environment
Largest wind farm to be expanded
20 May 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Bellamy calls for more sea power
20 May 09 |  Highlands and Islands
US offshore energy plan unveiled
22 Apr 09 |  Americas
Where the wind farm war is waged
13 Mar 09 |  Scotland
Cash for offshore turbine study
13 Jan 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific