Floating Wind Turbines – What’s Next in Renewable Energy

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Floating Wind Turbines – What’s Next in Renewable Energy

While by the end of the decade as much as 38,000 megawatts of wind turbines are due to be fixed to the sea floor; the shire of Aberdeen, Scotland could be reaping the benefits by the end of the year. Establishing themselves as the leading nation in “innovation and deployment of floating offshore wind,” Scotland has already granted planning permission for 92 megawatts of capacity from multiple renewable energy developers.

Wind Turbines

While Norway’s Statoil was the first to receive approval in May 2016; the largest farm is that of Scotland’s Kincardine Offshore Windfarm Ltd., who received approval in March 2017. Kincardine will erect eight six-megawatt turbines about 10 miles off the coast of Aberdeen and  have the ability to power 56,000 homes.

Other floating wind farm projects include:

  • Ireland’s Gaelectric Holdings Plc. and France’s Ideol SAS approved for Irish waters.
  • Sweden’s Hexicon AB off the coast of Inverness
  • Japan’s Toda Corp. off the coast of Nagasaki

This budding technology was inspired by the offshore oil industry; whose rigs have weathered the heavy winds and ocean depths for decades. The floating turbines will require less cost and material than traditional offshore turbines which are sunk to the sea floor up to depths of 40 meters or more. Floating on a steel tube containing a ballast, the base of each turbine will then be tethered to the sea floor for support.

The coast of Scotland has some of the strongest winds, making it an ideal location for the wind farms. But the battering winds and sea water combine to create an extremely corrosive environment. Surface finishes of sacrificial coatings and wear resistant materials for turbine shafts can extend equipment lifetime and reduce scrap rates. With proven results from the offshore oil and gas industry, using the SIFCO Process for on-site, in-place electroplating of journal shafts and bearing housings, repairs can be completed within one operating shift – keeping the turbines operational for longer.

Success of these projects is critical, as islands with less resources and land mass could rely on offshore wind farms for their energy needs. Scotland and the developers are counting on the expertise gained while working in the off shore oil and gas industry and other marine environments to create clean energy in order to reach their goal of generating half of all energy from renewable sources by 2030.

As the oil market declines, and the available land and resources continue to diminish, offshore wind energy is filling the need as a promising energy solution.

For more information on the SIFCO Process, and selective plating repairs, contact info@sifcoasc.com or 800-765-4131.