Floating wind turbines have an aesthetic advantage over fixed wind turbines, but higher costs might slow their deployment.
Norwegian energy company StatoilHydro recently installed the world’s first floating wind turbine. The offshore wind turbine is bobbing about in the North Sea, 7 miles off the coast of Norway. Known as Hywind, the turbine is 213 feet tall and weighs 5,300 tons. It can be used in waters 394 feet to 2,297 feet deep.
Floating wind turbines can be placed farther off the coast than fixed ocean wind turbines because they are anchored to the seabed by cables. As a result, they’re less visible from the coast and can be installed in areas with waters that would otherwise be too deep.
StatoilHydro plans to market the floating wind turbine in the United States for use off both the east and west coasts, but it’s currently more expensive than fixed wind turbines. The company is working to bring the cost down to a more competitive level.