|Rendering of Hywind windmills. Click to enlarge.|
Hydro, the Norwegian energy and aluminum company, is developing floating windmills for offshore power generation. Using the same type of floating concrete structure technology applied in the North Sea oil industry for offshore rigs as a base, the Hywind systems are designed to work in sea depths of 200–700 meters (656–2,297 feet).
Hydro has measured wind speeds in the North Sea for more than 30 years. Based on data determining that average wind speeds at sea are higher than on land, Hywind will be exceptionally energy efficient.
Model testing is currently under way at the Norwegian R&D institute Sintef Marintek’s ocean basin laboratory in Trondheim.
Hywind is a future-oriented project combining our offshore oil industry experiences with our knowledge of wind power to take advantage of wind resources where it blows most: at sea. If we succeed, this can become an important part of our future energy supply—Alexandra Bech Gjørv, Hydro’s director of new energy forms
Hydro is planning a demonstration project based on wind turbines with a power generation capacity of 3 megawatts (MW) to commence in 2007. The windmills will reach 80 meters above the sea’s surface and will have a rotor diameter of about 90 meters.
The company envisions future wind turbines with a power capacity of 5 MW and a rotor diameter of approximately 120 meters.
The future goal is to have large-scale offshore wind parks with up to 200 turbines capable of producing up to 4 terawatt hours (TWh) per year and delivering renewable electricity to both offshore and onshore activities. This goal is far in the future, but if we’re to succeed in 10-15 years, we have to start the work today.—Alexandra Bech Gjørv
Hydro has invested some NOK 20 million (US$3 million) into developing the Hywind concept over the past three years. Further realization of research and the demonstration project will require at least another NOK 150 million (US$22.8 million).