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Floating wind is attracting increasing investment and public policy support because it can access the estimated 81% of total offshore wind electricity generation potential that is in waters deeper than 40 metres. There, wind is more consistent, but using bottom-fixed offshore wind support structures may be less feasible technically, logistically and economically, or just plain impossible.
What Types of Structures are Involved?
Floaters aim to keep turbine assemblies afloat and in stable-enough positions to optimize power generation efficiency by countering complex ocean and wind motions. Four broad types are currently being used in floating wind pilot and demonstration projects made from steel or concrete. Three floater types – barge, semi-submersible and spar buoy – are moored to seabed anchors by chains, steel cables, or fibre ropes. The fourth type of floater, a tension leg platform (TLP), is vertically moored with teethers or tendons ‘tension legs‘. Very strong cables, pipes or rods link the legs to seabed anchoring. Different anchor types can be used depending on the type of mooring system, soil condition and expected environmental loads
How are Floating Wind Structures Made and Installed?
Floating wind turbines may be assembled onshore or in dry dock, then towed out by conventional tugs. Where fabrication sites with sufficient water depth are available, fitting towers and turbines can be done inshore prior to towing the full assemblies out to final location. With their large drafts, spars may need to lie horizontally for towing to site where they are then tilted to float vertically and ballasted prior to a crane barge mounting the turbine. TLPs can be assembled onshore and in dry dock. Some developers think TLPs could be towed to site, but special-purpose vessels may be needed.