Innovative floating wind turbine to begin testing off Norwegian coast

A new floating wind turbine design could soon be floating off the coast of Norway. Oslo-based startup World Wide Wind (WWW) has just been given the green light to test its novel wind turbine design at a site in Vats, southwest Norway.
“We are very proud to test our first prototype in cooperation with AF Gruppen and look forward to the launch and subsequent testing program, as well as exploring further opportunities for collaboration,” Bjørn Simonsen, CEO of WWW, said in a statement.

“Offshore floating wind is poised to become a major contributor to the global renewable energy mix, but to truly unlock its potential we need to develop sustainable and cost-effective floating wind turbine solutions, not simply move onshore turbines to sea. “Our turbines are specially designed for floating operations,” added Simonsen.

The prototype turbine measures 19 meters (62 feet) tall and features two sets of three-point blades that allow the entire mast to rotate freely about a vertical axis, spinning a generator located at the base of the structure below. of the water. This underwater turbine and ballast are then anchored to the seabed using cables. The entire structure is built to tilt like a sailboat, allowing it to sway with the movement of the waves.

The idea is that floating wind turbines can generate electricity in water depths where fixed-base turbines are not viable. An estimated 80 percent of offshore wind potential lies above the deep sea, where it would be difficult to build and maintain a turbine rigidly fixed to the seabed.

Several floating wind turbines are already in operation, but several challenges prevent them from reaching their potential.

WWW believes its model could solve these problems, such as reduced weight and a simplified supply chain. They argue that the new design has the added advantage of having less impact on wildlife, plus it has the potential to substantially reduce the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of wind power.

“We think this could be the ‘Tesla moment’ for floating wind,” Stian Valentin Knutsen, founder of WWW, told Recharge in 2022.

“There have been a lot of headaches over the last 10 years about floating wind, but there is no solution [to commercialize it] today and we believe that the current path will not solve it either, that is, bringing the technology to an LCOE that will be competitive” , he continued.

The prototype is a 30 kW turbine, but the company hopes to start testing larger, more powerful models in the coming years. A 1.2 MW pilot is planned to be tested in early 2025, while they aim to launch a 24 MW commercial turbine before 2030. Over time, they hope to expand the design beyond 40 MW.

Tom Hale