World's largest offshore wind farm opens for business


Walney wind farm off the coast of Cumbria in the UK yesterday became the world’s largest offshore wind facility. One hundred and two turbines over 73 sq km (28 sq miles) provide a maximum output of 367.2 MW. It’s claimed the facility will provide enough power for about 320,000 homes – half as many again as the total number in Cumbria.

The project’s first phase, Walney 1, has been providing power since January 2011 from 51 137-meter-high (450-ft) turbines, each with a 107-m (350-ft) rotor diameter. The completed second phase, Walney 2, adds another 51 turbines of even greater size to the installation. These 150-m (492-ft) tall turbines have three 18-tonne (19.8-short ton) blades with a total diameter of 120 m (394 ft). Despite the differing dimensions, all turbines are Siemens-made 3.6 MW turbines. All told a single wind turbine weighs a hefty 550 tonnes (606 short tons). The Walney 2 installation was completed in an impressively tight six-month window.



How WindFlip Will Deliver Gigantic Floating Turbines to Site

To tow the new gigantic off-shore wind turbines now being developed in Europe far out to sea, a Norwegian company has devised a clever and simple mechanism. Their WindFlip tows the turbine out almost horizontal – and then when it gets to the site, tilts it up into position – using only the weight of seawater to do it.

The structure contains 29 air filled compartments. Once at the site each of the compartments inside the Windflip is sequentially filled with water, causing the stern to slowly submerge, so that both the Windflip barge and the turbine it is holding flip up 90°. Then it releases the turbine for connection with a pre-installed mooring spread, and then tips the barge back to horizontal by clearing the ballast tanks of seawater with compressed air.



Why DOE-Funded Floating Turbines May Change Future of Offshore Wind

This week, Statoil has an application for a pilot demonstration of their Hywind floating wind turbine 12 miles off the coast of Maine before the new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for approval. The demo would be the fruition of a project begun in 2009, and funded by the Department of Energy.

Then Maine Governor John Baldacci had visited Norway to inspect Statoil’s Hywind floating turbine project with state and university officials and business leaders and encouraged Statoil to consider his state for deep-water testing of the commercial floating wind turbine technology in the Gulf of Maine. A return visit introduced Norway’s Statoil to turbine construction expertise in Maine, visiting the Vinalhaven wind turbines on the Fox Islands constructed by Cianbro.



Siemens Boosts Its Stake in Tidal Power

Marine energy has long looked to be a niche area, capable of meeting just a few percent of global power demand. But this seemingly limited energy source is drawing some big players, the latest being Siemens. The German engineering giant boosted its stake this month in Bristol, U.K.-based tidal energy developer Marine Current Turbines from under 10 percent to 45 percent. The attraction, according to Michael Axmann, chief financial officer for Siemens’s solar and hydro division, is the predictability of marine power.

Solar and wind farm operators struggle to predict tomorrow’s output, and bad forecasts can wreak havoc with power transmission planning and market prices. In contrast, the gravitational pull of the moon and sun that controls tidal cycles provides a sure means of anticipating the output from tidal generating stations. “Power output of the systems could be calculated for centuries in advance,” says Axmann.




Tidal array off the coast of France will be world’s largest when complete in 2012.

A reader actually shared news about this project with me over 2 months ago, but due to the steady stream of so many interesting cleantech stories, other responsibilities, and the fact that the shared page was in French and I had to learn French first (ok, just used Google Translate), it took me a while to get to it. The project is a “gigantic” (for tidal power) project off the coast of Paimpol-Bréhat in Brittany, France. It is a project of Irish tidal technology specialist OpenHydro and the large French utility company EDF.

The project will eventually include four 2-MW tital turbines from OpenHydro. The turbines are being installed 35 meters (115 feet) deep. They are 22 meters (72 feet) high and weigh 850 tonnes.



South Korea to Build World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm, Domestic Wind Power Industry

Despite relying on imported sources for 97% of its energy needs, South Korea’s been slow to tap into and develop its wind power resources. That appears to be changing. The South Korean government announced that it will invest 10.2 trillion won (US$9 billion) in building a 2.5 gigawatt (GW) offshore wind farm, the largest in the world.

Located offshore of South Korea’s southwestern coast, the offshore wind farm will be built in three phases by South Korean companies led by Korea Electric Power, the country’s largest electric utility. The first is a 100 megawatt demonstration phase to be completed by 2014. Wind turbines with capacities ranging from 3 MW to 7 MW will be erected mainly off the coast of Jeollabukdo and Jeollanamdo provinces in three stages at a projected cost of 400 billion won (~US$353 million).



Offshore wind farms are good for wildlife, say researchers

It is the evidence proponents of offshore wind farms have been waiting for: a Dutch study has found that offshore wind turbines have “hardly any negative effects” on wildlife, and may even benefit animals living beneath the waves.

The researchers reached their conclusions after studying a wind farm near Windpark Egmond aan Zee, the first large-scale offshore wind farm built off the Dutch North Sea coast.

Anti-wind farm campaigners have often argued that wind farms can have a negative impact on bird populations, while some critics have voiced concerns that offshore wind farms could prove disruptive to marine life.



Offshore Wind Power ABB Takes Down $1 Billion North Sea Contract

Swiss engineering group ABB closed the largest power transmission order in its long history, a $1 billion contract to connect planned offshore North Sea wind farms to the German electricity grid. Upon expected completion in 2015, transmission lines will deliver enough clean, renewable electrical power to supply more than 1.5 million households, while avoiding more than 3 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, according to an ABB press release.

“Offshore wind power is emerging as a major source of large-scale renewable energy in Europe to help meet emission targets and lower environmental impact,” said Peter Leupp, head of ABB’s Power Systems division. ”ABB is uniquely positioned with in-house manufacturing capability of converter stations, cables and semiconductors, the essential components of HVDC systems, and has invested significantly in these technologies.”



New Hampshire, USA — Researchers at the University of Maine’s DeepCwind Consortium have been working to make the goal of having 5 GW of offshore wind a reality by 2030 . With more than $1 million in grant funding provided by the Department of Energy (DOE), their first task is figuring out how to construct a cost- and energy-efficient deep offshore wind turbine.

At EnergyOcean International 2011, Dr. Christopher G. Hart, Offshore Wind manager at the DOE, expressed enthusiasm for the DeepCwind project. “We are excited at the Department of Energy to find a cost optimum system and the possibilities that deepwater offshore presents,” he said.

To determine turbine placement, researchers are conducting extensive testing at their pre-permitted deepwater offshore wind testing site, located three miles south of Monhegan Island. Here, they assess turbine platforms, wind resources, ecological resources and geophysical and wave conditions.


The DeepCwind project is organized in five phases. Phase 1 (2010-2012) involves the design and testing on a 1:3 scale a floating turbine at the Monhegan test site. Phase 2 (2011-2015) involves the design and deployment on a full-scale floating turbine prototype. And during phases 3-5, researchers hope to build 4-8 floating offshore wind farms 10-50 miles offshore with a total capacity of 4 GW. The project should be completed by 2030.

Platform Design

One of the major challenges for harnessing offshore wind is structural costs and design of the turbines. Many offshore platforms are massive and extremely expensive. With this in mind, researchers held a design competition to determine the best offshore turbine platform designs.


Three designs were chosen: buoyancy stabilized, ballast stabilized and mooring line stabilized. According to consortium, the buoyancy platform consists of a barge base with catenary mooring lines. These lines form a curved shape and raise the resistance of the anchors. Ballast platforms include a spar buoy (tall, thin buoy noted for its balance), catenary mooring, and drag-embedded anchors. Mooring line platforms consist of a tension leg platform with suction pile anchors.

Grid Connectivity

DeepCwind experts also must consider grid connectivity in relation to the placement of the offshore turbines. According to its Offshore Wind Report, “interconnection sites were evaluated based on their relative grid stiffness, general readiness to accept up to 30 MW of wind generation and their location relative to the proposed wind project areas of interest.” Researchers rejected any interconnection site more than 60 km from the proposed project site, any site with a stiffness ratio of less than 5:0 or sites that were unable to handle 30 MW. Four sites were determined viable along the Maine shore.

Researchers then studied these sites further during summer peak hours to determine viability. According to the report, “the general conclusion reached from the cursory assessment is that the interconnection of up to 30 MW at any of the sites identified above is not expected to have an adverse impact on thermal or voltage related issues on the CMP medium or high voltage transmission system.” The report also gives cabling cost estimates of around $65-75 per foot for aerial lines and $300-400 per foot for underground lines. Researchers are also investigating common connection concerns including waves, sediments and currents, along with methods that could mitigate these issues.

Environmental Concerns

Environmental experts have been involved with the project to determine risk factors. Several species that are threatened include migratory birds, bats, endangered marine animals, fish habitats and coastal wildlife. Experts have taken special care in avoiding high-risk areas for these species. Wind turbines are one of the least dangerous areas of concern for birds, accoriding to Jeff Thaler, a lawyer at Bernstein Shur. Thaler spoke bluntly at EnergyOcean: “Each year, wind turbines kill 28,500 birds, pesticides kill 67 million, cars kill 80 million, power lines kill 550 million — and the common cat kills over 180 million birds.”

Upcoming Plans

In October 2011, a new offshore wind lab will be opening at the University of Maine. According to the lab’s website, it “will include a nanocomposites laboratory, a large structural testing laboratory with a test stand capable of supporting a 70-meter wind blade, and space to accommodate faculty, staff, and graduate researchers.” The full-scale deepwater wind prototype is planned to be launched from July-October 2012 to collect new data. At EnergyOcean International, both Dr. Hart and Dr. Habib J. Dagher, P.E. Director of DeepCwind, agreed, “the key is not to be the first in the water, but the smartest.” Step by step, DeepCwind slowly moves closer to that goal.


Source: renewableenergyworld