Floating Offshore Wind Farms

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research


What it is

Floating offshore wind farms are wind farms where the wind turbines are mounted on floating platforms anchored to the seabed, rather than fixed to the ocean floor. This technology allows for wind energy generation in deeper waters, where traditional fixed-bottom turbines are not feasible due to water depth or seabed conditions.

Impact on climate action

Floating Offshore Wind Farms within Wind Power significantly advance climate action by tapping into abundant wind resources in deep waters. By expanding renewable energy potential, reducing land constraints, and providing clean energy, these innovations accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy, mitigating carbon emissions and combating climate change.

Underlying
Technology

  • Floating Platforms: These platforms are designed to support the weight and dynamic loads of wind turbines while maintaining stability in challenging ocean conditions. Different platform designs exist, including semi-submersible, spar-buoy, and tension-leg platforms.
  • Mooring and Anchoring Systems: Mooring and anchoring systems secure the floating platforms to the seabed, preventing them from drifting and ensuring stability.
  • Dynamic Cables: Flexible dynamic cables connect the floating turbines to the seabed substation, allowing for electricity transmission while accommodating the movement of the platforms.
  • Offshore Substations and Transmission: Offshore substations collect the electricity generated by the wind turbines and transmit it to shore through underwater cables.

TRL : 6-7

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Advanced Platform Designs: Innovations in platform design are improving the stability, cost-effectiveness, and environmental performance of floating wind farms. This includes developing platforms that are optimized for specific wind and wave conditions, as well as exploring new materials and construction methods.
  • Mooring and Anchoring Systems: Advancements in mooring and anchoring systems are enhancing the reliability and performance of floating wind farms, particularly in deeper waters and harsher environments.
  • Dynamic Cable Technology: Innovations in dynamic cable technology are improving the durability and reliability of cables used to connect floating turbines to the seabed substation.
  • Hybrid Wind-Wave Energy Systems: Combining floating wind turbines with wave energy converters can create hybrid renewable energy systems that harness both wind and wave resources, increasing energy generation and improving grid stability.

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Principle Power:
    • Technology Enhancement: Principle Power specializes in floating wind turbine foundation technology, particularly the WindFloat platform. The WindFloat platform utilizes a semi-submersible floating structure to support offshore wind turbines in deep waters, allowing for cost-effective deployment and maintenance of wind farms in challenging marine environments.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Principle Power stands out for its innovative floating wind technology, which enables the development of offshore wind projects in deeper waters where fixed-bottom foundations are not feasible. Their solution offers scalability, reduced environmental impact, and increased energy generation potential compared to traditional fixed-bottom offshore wind farms.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Principle Power serves developers, utilities, and governments seeking to harness the vast potential of offshore wind energy in deep waters. Their floating wind technology opens up new opportunities for offshore wind deployment in regions with strong wind resources and limited seabed suitability, supporting the transition to renewable energy and decarbonization efforts.
  • Stiesdal Offshore Technologies:
    • Technology Enhancement: Stiesdal Offshore Technologies (SOT) focuses on the development of innovative floating wind turbine concepts, including the TetraSpar floating foundation. The TetraSpar design utilizes a modular steel structure with a tetrahedral shape to support offshore wind turbines, offering stability, scalability, and cost-effectiveness for deepwater deployment.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: SOT stands out for its TetraSpar floating foundation design, which combines the benefits of both fixed-bottom and floating offshore wind solutions. The modular and scalable nature of the TetraSpar concept enables efficient manufacturing, assembly, and installation of floating wind farms, making it an attractive option for offshore wind developers.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Stiesdal Offshore Technologies caters to offshore wind developers, project investors, and energy stakeholders interested in deploying floating wind farms in deep waters. Their TetraSpar technology offers a competitive alternative to traditional fixed-bottom foundations, opening up new possibilities for offshore wind expansion in challenging marine environments.
  • Ideol:
    • Technology Enhancement: Ideol specializes in floating offshore wind technology, particularly the patented Damping Pool foundation. The Damping Pool foundation features a ring-shaped floating platform with a central column that provides stability and reduces motion in offshore wind turbines, enhancing performance and reliability in harsh marine conditions.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Ideol stands out for its Damping Pool foundation design, which offers superior stability, cost-effectiveness, and environmental compatibility compared to other floating wind concepts. Their solution is optimized for large-scale deployment in deep waters, enabling offshore wind projects to access untapped wind resources and expand renewable energy capacity.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Ideol serves offshore wind developers, utilities, and governments seeking innovative solutions for offshore wind deployment in deep waters. Their Damping Pool technology provides a flexible and reliable platform for floating wind farms, supporting the transition to clean energy and offshore wind development in challenging marine environments.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • University of Maine:
    • Research Focus: The University of Maine is a pioneer in the field of Floating Offshore Wind Farms, focusing on the development of innovative floating wind turbine platforms and deployment technologies for deep-water offshore wind energy production.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the design, testing, and optimization of floating support structures, such as semi-submersible and tension-leg platforms, to withstand harsh marine environments and extreme weather conditions. They also explore novel materials, mooring systems, and dynamic control strategies to enhance stability, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of floating wind farms.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in offshore wind energy projects, particularly in areas with deep-sea depths where traditional fixed-bottom foundations are not feasible. By enabling the deployment of wind turbines further offshore, the University of Maine’s research contributes to expanding the global offshore wind energy potential, reducing visual impact, and tapping into high-wind resource areas for clean electricity generation.
  • Technical University of Denmark (DTU):
    • Research Focus: DTU is at the forefront of research on Floating Offshore Wind Farms, leveraging its expertise in wind energy, hydrodynamics, and structural engineering to advance the design, analysis, and deployment of floating wind turbine systems.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses numerical modeling, experimental testing, and field validation of floating wind turbine concepts, including spar-buoy, semi-submersible, and hybrid platforms. They also investigate interdisciplinary aspects, such as environmental impact assessment, logistics optimization, and grid integration strategies for offshore wind farms.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work support the development of large-scale floating wind projects in deep-water locations, coastal areas, and offshore energy parks. By pioneering floating offshore wind technology, DTU’s research helps unlock new wind resources, drive down costs, and accelerate the transition to renewable energy in coastal regions worldwide.
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU):
    • Research Focus: NTNU conducts innovative research on Floating Offshore Wind Farms, leveraging its expertise in marine engineering, offshore structures, and renewable energy systems to address technical, environmental, and socio-economic challenges associated with offshore wind deployment.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses interdisciplinary studies on wave-structure interaction, dynamic response analysis, and fatigue life prediction of floating wind turbine systems. They also investigate novel concepts, such as tension-leg platforms, buoyant concrete structures, and hybrid energy systems, to optimize performance, reduce costs, and enhance environmental sustainability.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in offshore wind farms, energy islands, and integrated marine renewable energy projects. By advancing floating offshore wind technology, NTNU’s research contributes to the global transition to renewable energy, decarbonizing the electricity sector, and fostering innovation in offshore engineering and maritime industries.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Floating offshore wind farms are still in the early stages of commercialization, but several pilot projects and demonstration wind farms have been successfully deployed. For example, the Hywind Scotland wind farm, developed by Equinor, is the world’s first commercial-scale floating wind farm.