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Oceans of Opportunity

From 14 to 16 September, over 1,000 representatives of the offshore wind industry, policy makers and energy specialists will gather in Stockholm to explore and discuss the future of offshore wind energy during the third biennial European Offshore Wind Conference and Exhibition. Organised by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), the EOW2009 will debate the future of offshore development in Europe.
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{access view=!registered}Only logged in users can view the full text of the article.{/access}{access view=registered}The conference programme offers over 23 sessions and numerous side events covering different aspects of offshore wind development. With 4,000m2 of stand space, the exhibition has doubled in size since the previous event in 2007. Exhibition visitors will be able to meet over 220 of the players in offshore wind power from Europe, North America and Asia, including manufacturers, developers, power generators, engineering and construction companies, and utilities operators.

Although projections for the offshore market show dramatic growth, it is still at an early stage of development. According to EWEA statistics, all of the 1,471MW installed worldwide by the end of 2008 was in EU waters. EWEA’s reference scenario predicts 3.5GW of offshore wind in the EU by 2010, 35GW in 2020 and 120GW by 2030.

A technical concept that is being studied by more and more companies is floating wind turbines. Several smaller companies, like Blue H Technologies and Force Technology, began exploring the concept some time ago and they are now being joined by some of the bigger players. Siemens have recently teamed up with StatoilHydro and installed their first prototype in June of this year, and in another recent announcement, AREVA Multibrid and SWAY (Norway) said that they have gone into partnership in order to develop deep-water floating wind turbine solutions. In the latter case the difference from other concepts is that the turbine will be adapted to enable downwind turbine operation on SWAY’s tower solution. SWAY AS has been granted a licence from the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate to build a floating wind turbine plant approximately 7 km outside Karmøy on the west coast of Norway. The demonstration plant will consist of a SWAY floating tower and an AREVA Multibrid wind turbine with a capacity of 5MW. The tower is 188 metres long, of which 84 metres is above water and 104 metres is below water. Heavy ballast is placed at the bottom of the tower and it is anchored to the seabed with a tension leg and a suction anchor. The tension leg is attached to the tower through a subsea yaw mechanism that enables the wind turbine, including the tower, to revolve with the wind. This allows a tension rod system to strengthen the tower, similar to the wire stays on a sailing boat. The technology is suitable for ocean depths between 80 and 400 metres. The wind turbine that is mounted on the top of the tower is placed downwind. This is to allow the floating tower to tilt (6–8 degrees) due to the pressure from the wind, without resulting in a large misalignment between the rotor and the wind. Transformers, switchgear and other electric equipment will be placed in the tower.

As we have done with many other developments, we will keep an eye on this concept and inform you about its progress in future issues.

Enjoy reading,

Floris Siteur
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