StatoilHydro is to build the world’s first full-scale floating wind turbine and test it over a two-year period offshore Karmoy, Norway, with start-up scheduled for autumn 2009.
The £40million ($80million) project is framed around the so-called Hywind concept, which draws on offshore oil&gas spar floating production technology, which is now a significant feature of the US Gulf of Mexico. Main contracts are already awarded.
The spar will resemble an iceberg in that 65m will stand above the surface of the sea, but it will extend 100m below, in this instance.
Depending on specification, Hywind can be manufactured to suit water depths in the range 120-700m.
The idea behind the design is that such turbines could be installed a long way offshore and tethered in a similar manner to offshore oil production spars and other floater types. In this instance, a three-point anchoring system will be used.
Power will be fed ashore via conventional subsea cable and riser systems, again similar to oil industry practice.
The generator will essentially be a conventional unit, on this occasion rated 2.3MW, and be manufactured by Siemens of Germany. The rotor blades will have a diameter of 80m and the nacelle (generator) will stand some 65m above the sea surface.
Technip is responsible for the spar element, which will be built at the company’s Pori yard in Finland. This is where the tubular “hulls” of oil&gas production spar platforms such as Tahiti, Mad Dog and Holstein were built. This top-three subsea contractor also has the responsibility for the installation work offshore. Nexans will lay cables to shore and Haugaland Kraft will be responsible for the landfall. Assembly of the pilot will take place in the Amoyfjord, near Stavanger, and the completed structure will be located some 10km offshore and to the south-west of Karmoy, in the county of Rogaland.
The goal of the pilot is to reduce costs so that floating wind power can compete in the power market.
StatoilHydro’s VP in charge of renewables, Alexandra Bech Gjorv, said in a statement: “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.”
With this purpose in mind, the Norwegian oil company has entered into a technology development agreement with Siemens for the project. The wind turbines must be capable of functioning optimally even in large waves.
A three-metre tall model has already been successfully tested at SINTEF Marintek’s wave simulator in Trondheim. The goal of the pilot is to qualify the technology and reduce costs to a level that will mean that floating wind turbines can compete with other energy sources.
“If we succeed, we will have taken a major step in moving the wind power industry offshore,” said Bech Gjorv.
“Floating wind turbines can make a major contribution to providing the world with clean power, but there are major technical and commercial challenges that need to be resolved.
“If we are to succeed, we will need to co-operate closely with the authorities. As with other technologies for renewable energy, floating wind power will be dependent on incentive schemes to be viable.”
Hywind is not the only wind technology in StatoilHydro’s renewables stable as the company owns another concept known as Sway. Like grass, it is designed to “bend” with the wind and sea in extreme conditions.
StatoilHydro also holds interests in the Hammerfest Strom tidal device currently being developed in Norway; also the Pelamis wave device developed by Ocean Power Delivery of Edinburgh.