The establishment of wind power is now marching further to the deep waters. US-based GE is currently working with naval architecture & marine engineering service provider Glosten on designing 12MW floating offshore wind turbines from a budget of US$4 million.
The existing offshore wind turbines are mainly fixated at the seabed using concrete or steel piles, and the particular installation is restricted by the depth of water and the coast distance. Wind turbines are primarily installed at shallow waters below 50m, and there are fewer high quality wind farms for development under the increasing installed capacity, which is why multiple developers have started to target the vast deep waters by constructing floating offshore wind turbines that are attached at the seabed through extended ropes, which helps to enlarge the installation range for offshore wind power.
GE unfolded the 2-year collaboration with Glosten in April 2020, and obtained a US$3 million subsidy from the Atlantis program, which proposes a pristine solution from the adoption of the tension-leg platform technology by Pelastar and the control system that is currently developed by GE. TLP is vertically integrated to the bottom of the sea using steel pipes or steel cables, with a lightweight structure and a high level of stability. However, the installation process is relatively complex, and the particular platform is usually utilized under a water depth of roughly 2,400m.
Rogier Blom, Senior Principal Engineer- Controls & Optimization at GE Global Research, commented that the concept of floating offshore wind turbines is kind of like placing buses on long poles, and to allow wind turbines to float on the sea, as well as maintain balance from the impact of the waves, will not only impose challenges to the design, but also require a significant level of quality from the control system.
As pointed out by GE, the mass of the floating wind turbine is expected to reduce by 35% compared to the exiting floating wind turbine technology. Should offshore wind power successfully penetrate into the deep waters in the future, the annual power generation for the US will rise to 7,000 TWh, which is almost a twofold increase from the existing figure at 4,000 TWh.
GE has been performing remarkably in recent years in offshore wind power. The company released the largest 12MW Haliade-X wind turbine in 2018, which measures at 260m in height, and is equipped with three blades that are 220m in diameter, with 45% additional energy conversion over other wind turbines. GE is also developing a larger 14MW version right now.
Haliade-X will be incorporated into the UK-based 1.2GW Dogger Bank, the largest wind farm in the world, as well as the 800MW Vineyard Wind in the US. Blom pointed out that the activation of the floating offshore wind power project will once again elevate the potential of power generation for offshore wind power.
(Cover photo source: GE)