September 8, 2009

Norwegian Energy Company Develops First Floating Wind Turbine

Norwegian energy giant StatoilHydro said on Tuesday that the world's first floating full-scale offshore wind turbine has been inaugurated in the North Sea off the coast of Norway, AFP reported.

The company said the Hywind turbine measures 213 feet tall and weighs 5,300 tons and lies some seven miles off the island of Karmoey near the Scandinavian country's southwestern coastline.

The turbine sits on a floating stand that is anchored to the seabed by three cables, while water and rocks are placed inside the stand to provide ballast.

Hywind will undergo two more years of tests before StatoilHydro sets up any more floating turbines internationally.

So far, Japan, South Korea, California, the east coast of the United States and Spain may be potential markets for StatoilHydro's technology.

Because Hywind is buoyant, it can be placed much further away from the shore than static wind turbines already in operation.

The floating turbine has great advantages. It is not so easily seen from the coast, it can be placed in areas not used by others," said StatoilHydro's Anne Stroemmen Lycke.

She believes such wind turbines could be used in countries where coastal waters are very deep or where there is little space left for land-based turbines.

Around $66 million has been invested in the 2.3-megawatt floating turbine, making it a far more expensive option than its fixed counterpart.

Stroemmen Lycke said their goal was to bring the price down to the level of fixed wind turbines that are currently installed in waters around 200 feet deep.

The Norwegian energy giant had assistance from France's Technip and Germany's Siemens on the Hywind project.

StatoilHydro said it would begin producing electricity in the next few weeks.


Image Caption: The windmill was towed to its final destination on 8 June 2009. (Photo: Øyvind Hagen, StatoilHydro)


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