Floating offshore wind energy: 5 great advantages
Floating offshore wind energy could generate more electricity than everyone currently uses. According to ETIP Wind, it could take advantage of 80% of the global marine wind resources in waters with a depth greater than 50m. Let’s look in detail at the technology required to generate this wind energy and at the advantages and challenges of using it.
The floating offshore wind: an alternative to traditional offshore wind farms
Offshore wind power is clean and renewable. It takes advantage of the power of the wind on the high seas, where it reaches a higher and more constant speed thanks to the lack of obstacles. Until recently, as fixed structures were used, they could not be installed in very deep places or places with a complex seabed. Wind turbines can now be installed on floating structures. That is, platforms that are anchored to the bottom by flexible anchors chains or steel cables.
World Forum Offshore wind is the first organization dedicated to the promotion of offshore wind energy in the world. This institution says that floating offshore wind it has 7 GW of installed capacity in Europe, the United States and Japan.
Iberdrola is one of the companies most committed to consolidating this technological advance. The Spanish company has led the European project Flagship. This aims to demonstrate the viability and profitability of installing turbines (over 10 MW) on floating platforms.
How does it work?
As we said, floating offshore wind technology involves offshore wind turbines. They are mounted on floating structures, in waters where the depth does not allow for fixed structures. Turbines can be assembled on land and then moved offshore, using modular trailers and barges.
The force of the wind rotates the blades and the wind turbine converts kinetic energy into electricity. It is first transported by submarine cables to a marine substation and then to a terrestrial one. It’s transported to the houses through power lines. Wind turbines must be kept stable, minimizing movements.
5 great advantages of floating offshore wind
- Minor environmental impact: by not invading the seabed at the facility, the infrastructure does not interfere with marine ecosystems. And, being away from the coast (at least 3km), the visual impact is also minimized. As there is 3 times more surface area of sea than land, the potential space to build is huge, without having to invade rural areas.
- The force of the wind has great power in the ocean. Its speed and frequency are high and regular, because it meets no obstacles. Taking advantage of this improves energy efficiency.
- It can generate additional energy at depths greater than 50-60m, in waters that do not allow fixed structures or where it’s too expensive or difficult to install them. The construction processes are based on lighter structures, shortening construction times and achieving greater performance.
- Manufacturing and installation facilities:
.Turbines and floating platforms can be built and assembled on land and towed offshore. The installation requires tugboats and cableways cheaper than those of fixed foundations. It requires less construction material, a shorter installation period and dismantling cycle. This also means that assembly and construction are carried out in a much safer and more controlled environment.
- Generation and growth of local employment in coastal sectors: Those affected by the decline in shipbuilding benefit from the reorientation of their industry towards floating wind infrastructure.
Challenges facing the floating offshore wind
In some cases, the cost may increase depending on the difficulty of construction. For example, in the assembly of the mills and the creation of a wiring system on the seabed to bring energy to the coast. In addition, there is a lack of qualified personnel for much of the offshore wind farm construction work.
In the coming years, floating offshore wind technology will become more prevalent around the world. Its growth forecast is 50% annually leading up to 2025.
Its high potential, socio-economically and environmentally, makes floating offshore wind energy a crucial renewable source in decarbonization, as well as in the sustainable growth of the world.
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Iberdrola. (2021b)). Lideramos el proyecto Flagship para avanzar hacia la eólica marina flotante.
Lopez, A. (2020). La eólica marina flotante podría generar más energía de la que se consume actualmente en todo el mundo.
Lopez de Benito, J. (2020). El gran potencial energético de la eólica marina flotante en España.
OCU. (2019). Energía eólica marina, ¿solución o parche?
Roca, J. A. (2020). Floating offshore wind alone could generate more energy than is consumed in the world.