Floating wind turbines are complex to build, but they can offer better performance by harnessing the energy of the stronger winds blowing across the world’s oceans or sea. Several countries are taking a close interest in it. GE is also looking to unlock this potential through the development of massive wind turbines that can operate in deeper waters.
GE researchers unveiled details of an ongoing two-year, $4 MM project through the ARPA-E’s ATLANTIS (Aerodynamic Turbines Lighter and Afloat with Nautical Technologies and Integrated Servo-control) program to design and develop advanced controls to support a 12 MW Floating Offshore Wind Turbine. GE is partnering on the project with Glosten, the company that offers marine engineering and naval architecture solutions, and the developer of the PelaStar tension-leg platform floating wind turbine foundation.
By coupling a 12 MW GE turbine with Glosten’s tension leg platform technology, the team has taken on the challenge of designing a lightweight Floating Turbine with up to 35% less mass compared to current designs for floating offshore wind turbines. This is expected to significantly reduce the resulting Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) of the electricity generated by this turbine. The core principle that makes this possible is co-designing the controls system with the tower and floating platform.
Floating wind turbines would open up the possibility of offshore installations at depths greater than 60 m. It would dramatically expand the potential of US offshore wind resources to more than 7,000 Terawatt hours (TWh) per year, almost double the total annual US energy consumption of 4,000 TWh.
“With GE’s Haliade-X, the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbine built to date, we’re just beginning to tap into the future promise of offshore wind power in Europe, the US, and other parts of the globe,” says GE’s Rogier Blom, the project’s principal investigator. “Today, these fixed-bottom wind turbines are limited to depths of 60 meters (200 ft) or less. With floating turbines, we would be able to dramatically expand the reaches of offshore wind power to areas with water depths of 60 meters or greater.”
Blom noted that enabling floating offshore wind power would dramatically expand the power generation potential of offshore wind.
GE Renewable Energy is taking some major steps in the offshore wind energy world that recently unveiled 14MW Haliade-X – an upscaled version of the 13MW Haliade-X and the most powerful turbine in operation today.