New construction method could boost offshore wind energyAugust 23, 2012
Engineers develop new method that aims to make offshore wind energy more viable
University of Cambridge engineers have developed a new construction method for wind turbines. This method could have a positive impact on the wind energy industry as it is expected to lower the cost of production of wind turbines and make offshore wind energy systems more efficient. If the method becomes popular and becomes widely accepted, the wind energy industry may see significantly increased payback and become more attractive to investors. Offshore wind energy systems have experienced a swell of popularity, with many nations with access to the ocean showing a great deal of support for offshore projects.
Stability towers considered costly and inefficient
Offshore wind turbines require large towers to be installed from the surface of the ocean and extend down to the sea floor. These towers provide stability for wind turbines and ensure that they do not sink or drift away. These towers are not often the focus of wind energy systems and are usually ignored to a degree. Jim Platts of the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge notes that overlooking these towers may have caused some turbulence in the wind energy industry in terms of offshore power.
Method aims to utilize composite materials and guyed towers
The installation of offshore wind energy systems requires an excessive amount of energy. The energy required to install turbines and stability towers in the ocean is often considered inefficient, and has been one of the major factors contributing to the delays of offshore power systems. The method developed by Cambridge engineers utilizes guyed towers that are comprised of durable composite materials that are affordable. The use of composite materials is expected to significantly reduce the cost of offshore wind energy systems while still making them viable power generators.
Method likely to be researched by manufacturing companies
The construction method may hold a great deal of potential, but whether wind turbine manufacturers will adopt it has yet to be seen. So far, Mervento, a Finnish wind turbine manufacturer, has shown that guyed wind turbines are both economically viable and capable of producing significant amounts of energy. Manufacturers interested in the method will likely devote funds to researching it in order to determine whether it fits well into their wind energy plans.
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