ETI project identifies potential for floating offshore wind turbines in deeper water

Project Deepwater, a consortium led by Blue H with BAE Systems, the Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture (CEFAS), EDF, Romax Technology Ltd, SLP Energy and PAFA Consulting Engineers, was launched by the ETI in January 2009.

It looked at the feasibility and costs of generating electricity using offshore wind turbines mounted on a floating, tension legged platform, in water between 70 and 300 metres deep.

Existing offshore wind turbines are usually mounted on fixed structures that are unsuitable for use in deeper water.

ETI Chief Executive Dr David Clarke said: “The traditional view is that the cost of offshore wind energy becomes increasingly more expensive as wind turbines are located in deeper water due to the additional costs of supporting traditional wind turbine structures.

“The cost of foundations does get more expensive as you go into deeper water but the wind speeds in much of the UK deep water are significantly stronger and more consistent which results in a more reliable and higher energy output. Over time, this more than outweighs the additional foundation costs and gives an overall lower cost of wind energy.

“This wind power project has shown that it may be possible to use floating wind turbines to exploit deeper water sites off the coast of the UK where the wind speeds are both higher and more consistent, to produce electricity at a similar cost to existing and proposed offshore wind farm sites where the wind turbines are in shallower water up to 40 metres deep.

“The assumption has always been that the cost of installing wind turbines in deeper water would be too high to make economic sense but this project shows that it may be possible to open up new sites in deeper water, for example off the west coast of the UK. The project has also identified that there is huge global potential for floating wind turbines in deep water.

“While it is important that low carbon technologies are developed to help meet the UK Government’s legally binding targets for reducing greenhouse gasses by 2020 and 2050 those technologies need to provide secure energy sources and crucially, need to be affordable.”

Neal Bastick, CEO from Blue H said: “There are a number of advantages to locating wind farms in deeper water, particularly off the west coast of the UK. Wind speeds tend to be higher and the wind steadier which means the turbines should consistently capture more energy and help to bring the costs down.

“This project has shown that exploiting the conditions of deeper water can be cost effective and those costs should come down further as development continues.”

Project Deepwater was one of the ETI’s first offshore wind power projects along with Nova and Helm Wind which are due to produce their final conclusions later in the year.

The Nova project is looking at the potential benefits of using an innovative vertical axis turbine and Helm Wind is assessing the complete design system for an offshore wind turbine array, including installation, design, aerodynamics, electrical systems, control and maintenance.

The findings from all three projects will be analysed by the ETI before a decision is made on the next steps in the offshore wind programme, which could see an offshore wind demonstrator built using technologies and insights from all three projects.

The Energy Technologies Institute is a UK based company formed from global industries and the UK Government. The ETI brings together projects and partnerships that create affordable, reliable, clean energy for heat, power, transport and associated infrastructure. For more information, please go to

The ETI’s six private sector members are BP, Caterpillar, EDF Energy, E.ON, Rolls-Royce and Shell. The UK Government has committed to match support from four further Members. The ETI’s public funds are received from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills through the Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). These organisations, together with the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), are engaged directly in the ETI’s strategy and programme development.

The ETI will accelerate the deployment of affordable, secure low-carbon energy systems from 2020 to 2050 by demonstrating technologies, developing knowledge, skills and supply-chains and informing the development of regulation, standards and policy.