According to the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the UK and US are going to collaborate on the development of floating wind turbines designed to generate power in deep waters where the wind is much stronger. These conditions are currently beyond the capabilities of conventional turbines.
The announcement was made alongside the meeting of Energy Ministers from around the world in London last week to talk about the move to clean energy technologies. The US/UK collaboration was expected to be one of a number of bilateral agreements around renewable technology made by the UK government.
Offshore wind represents a significant source of renewable energy for the UK, but exploiting the opportunity, particularly in deeper waters off the west of the country, requires significant technology developments. The waters can be too deep for fixed structures but benefit from consistently higher wind speeds.
The Energy Technologies Institute in the UK is in the process of commissioning a £25m offshore wind floating system demonstrator. The objective is to produce, by 2016, an offshore wind turbine that can produce 5-7MW. In the US, the Department of Energy has recently announced $180m of funding for up to four Advanced Technology Demonstration Projects in US waters – which could also include a floating wind demonstration.
The opportunity to benefit from the wind energy potential in deep waters is one that the UK can’t afford to ignore, so efforts to move in that direction were inevitable. Developing the technology with the US, or anyone else with the technological capability that could help spread the financial, load makes sense. Let’s hope it’s as much action as talk.