June 8, 2009
During the weekend of June 5-7th, STATOIL-Hydro, the Norwegian oil and gas company, has inaugurated the first floating wind turbine off the Norwegian coast.
The new device might give a tremendous boost to wind energy in general and off-shore wind energy in particular. It allows installing wind turbines in water depths up to 700 meter, far beyond the possibilities of traditional off-shore wind technology.
The 2.3 MW pilot project will be a floating structure with a steel jacket filled with ballast extending to 100 m depth, fastened to three anchor piles and linked to the land by a seabed cable. It will be tested during the next two years.
Its cost is considerably higher than that of traditional off-shore wind turbines. Its future success therefore depends on the ability of substantially cutting costs through technological refinements and economies of scale.
The new technology would dramatically enhance the scope of off-shore wind energy generation by vastly the expanding the areas for building off-shore wind parks and allowing for more regular generation of power thanks to quasi-permanent wind farther away from land.
It is the first time that a major oil/gas company builds on its long technological experience in off-shore gas-oil production for developing renewable energy technologies. Considering the limited oil/gas reserves of the North Sea, it was normal for STATOIL to look for alternatives. Hopefully other oil/gas companies will follow the example.
Brussels, 08.06.09 Eberhard RheinAuthor : Eberhard Rhein