UK, U.S. to Collaborate on Floating Wind Turbine Development

During the Clean Energy Ministerial in London over the next few days, the U.S. and the UK will agree to collaborate in the development of floating wind technology designed to generate power in deep waters currently off limits to conventional turbines, but where the wind is much stronger, the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced this week.

According to the government agency, the UK has more installed offshore wind around its shores than any other country and the biggest pipeline of new projects. But exploiting future resources economically, particularly in deeper waters off the west of the country, will require significant technology developments to build large offshore wind arrays. “Much of the deeper waters between 60 and 100 metres are too deep for fixed structures but benefit from consistently higher wind speeds,” it said. “Floating wind turbines will allow us to exploit more of our wind resource, potentially more cheaply.”

In the UK, the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is currently in the process of commissioning a £25 million offshore wind floating system demonstrator. Participants chosen to take part in the project will be tasked with the objective of producing by 2016 an offshore wind turbine that can produce 5 to 7 MW. Selection of the organization to deliver the project is ongoing and an announcement on who will be carrying out the project on behalf of the ETI is expected early next year. The ETI is also currently investigating various sites that could host the demonstrator and has announced that it is working with WaveHub,16 km northeast of St Ives off the Cornish coast to carry out a site feasibility study.

In the U.S.—where no commercial offshore wind farms have yet been built—the Department of Energy recently announced a $180 million funding opportunity for up to four Advanced Technology Demonstration Projects in U.S. waters, which could potentially include a floating wind demonstration.

The two countries are expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on “Collaboration in Energy Related Fields” this week, covering collaboration in areas such as power generation (including low-carbon technologies to combat climate change), energy transmission and distribution, and energy efficiency. “Ultimately it is hoped that this approach will result in more cost effective, higher yield floating wind technologies being developed,” the DECC said.

The Clean Energy Ministerial, the third international conference of its kind, will take place from April 25-26 in London. Its goals are to accelerate the transition to clean energy technologies. Themes covered by this year’s conference include: energy efficiency, appliances, buildings/industry, electric vehicles, bioenergy, carbon capture and storage, hydropower, solar, wind, energy access, and smart grids.

Ministers from 23 countries will attend: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, the UK, and the U.S.

Sources: POWERnews, DECC, DOE

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