If an $80 million plan by Norwegian oil company StatoilHydro to test a full-scale floating deepwater wind turbine off Norway’s coast next year is successful, the wind industry could see renewed installation frenzy. StatoilHydro’s 2.3-MW wind turbine will be built by Siemens atop a “Spar-buoy,” which is based on the design of production platforms and offshore loading buoys. The rotor blades on the floating wind turbine will have a diameter of 262 feet, and the nacelle will tower 213 feet above the waves (Figure 3). The floatation element, built by Technip, will have a draft of 1,076 feet below the sea surface, and it will be moored to the seabed using three anchor points. From tests that StatoilHydro conducted with a 10-foot-high model in a wave simulator in Trondheim, Siemens and StatoilHydro have determined that the turbine can be located in waters with depths of 394 feet to 2,297 feet.

The pilot project will be assembled in Åmøyfjorden, near Stavanger, and is to be located some 6.2 miles offshore Karmøy in southeast Norway. Siemens, which has entered into a technology development agreement with StatoilHydro on the project, will ensure that the turbines function optimally during the two-year test, even in large waves.

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Norwegian company Statoil-Hydro will test the world’s first floating deepwater wind turbine in 2009 off Norway’s coast. The device’s rotor blades will have a diameter of 262 feet, and the nacelle will tower 213 feet above the waves. Courtesy: StatoilHydro

The goal of the pilot is to qualify the technology and reduce costs to a level that will enable floating wind turbines to compete with other energy sources, said Alexandra Bech Gjørv, head of New Energy at StatoilHydro. “Floating wind power is not mature technology yet, and the road to commercialisation and large scale development is long. An important aspect of the project is therefore research and development,” she said. “If we are to succeed, we will need to cooperate closely with the authorities. As with other technologies for renewable energy, floating wind power will be dependent on incentive schemes to be viable.”

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