It is expected that in the next five years, more contracts for the construction of floating offshore wind farms will occur. Offshore wind projects are increasingly becoming popular globally, and floating wind systems are the next big thing. Floating offshore wind farms allow the industry to move much further to greater water depths allowing them to take advantage of the high wind speeds to produce more wind energy.
The world’s first commercial floating foundations were constructed in 2017 off the coast of Scotland, and engineers are rapidly adopting this new trend. Here are the advantages of floating offshore wind turbines.
More building spaces
One big advantage of floating offshore wind systems is that they expand the number of places they can be built. They are not restricted to shallow sea waters. By installing the wind turbines further deeper into the sea, engineers can take advantage of the high uninterrupted wind speeds, which means that the systems can cater to more energy needs. For the most conservative government concerned with unsightly wind farms, floating wind systems installed further into the sea eliminate such issues.
More efficient installations and maintenance
Another advantage of offshore wind systems is the less reliance on large and costly installation vessels. Offshore fixed turbines require powerful hammers and tools to lift the large-sized monopiles, transport, assemble the parts and erect them. On the other hand, engineers assemble floating turbines on port and use anchor-handling vessels to tow them on site, which is more cost-effective. That is a significant cost saving on the highly specialist marine lifting gear required to install a fixed turbine at sea.
Less environmental impact
Since floating wind systems are installed further offshore, they lessen the environmental impact, which means that contractors face less community resistance. They minimize the visual impact on the skyline and the acoustic effects as well. Apart from being out of sight, out of mind, the installation of floating turbines is much less invasive, causing less environmental impact.
Increased wind capacity
Nearshore, moving wind is more turbulent and dispersed than a few miles into the deep sea, where the wind is more powerful and steady. Over 80% of all the floating offshore wind systems are in waters deeper than 60meters, where the fixed installations are not feasible. So, floating wind systems provide access to more wind capacities which translates to a more steady energy. Again, by relying on less seabed conditions, floating foundations offer access to areas and resources not accessible to fixed offshore systems. At the same time, engineers are building more elaborate structures to capture more wind, and it is only sensible that this is done on floating offshore wind systems.
Favors the local economy
The construction or installation of floating offshore wind systems requires the contribution of the local supply chain right from welding, assembly, electrical services, heavy lifts, etc. That brings about a favorable impact on the local economy. In the future, we expect to see the development of some ports specifically dedicated to assembling wind turbines which means that floating offshore wind systems favor the local economy.
The bottom line
Floating offshore wind systems are much easier to inspect and repair than fixed wind systems. That means they are more reliable and sustainable. The offshore wind industry is expanding, and floating wind systems are set to play a vital role in its future.