Today, GE released new information about a concept that could help advance the construction of futuristic floating wind farms. Floating turbines are engineering marvels — or nightmares, depending on your perspective — that have the potential to open up vast swaths of the deep ocean to offshore wind production.
Although the floating behemoths have a lot of promise, they are currently too expensive to deploy commercially. Since they’re floating, they’re often subjected to a slew of technical problems that turbines anchored to the seabed are spared. GE is designing advanced turbine controls with consulting firm Glosten in the hopes of solving some of these issues. This will be paired with their biggest turbine model. It is almost as tall as both the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument put together.
The US Department of Energy awarded GE $3 million to fund the two-year project, which began last year. If the company can demonstrate that its design will work through modeling and simulations, it can move forward with its project partners to create a prototype. They’re unveiling some specifics of their concept today at the DOE’s “Energy Innovation Summit.”
The turbines themselves are virtually identical to other seafloor-mounted turbines. The architecture of the frame that holds it up and the controls used to navigate them on the open ocean is the most significant variations. GE is attempting to integrate the architecture of an existing 12MW turbine and platform with automated controls to operate more efficiently. The turbine’s response to wind and waves is improved thanks to the authorities, built-in sensors, and computers.