Britain and the USA to collaborate on floating wind turbine technology

April 23rd, 2012 by HM Government Department of Energy and Climate Change

Energy Ministers from 23 of the world’s leading economies will gather in London on 25 and 26 April 2012 for the third Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM3) conference to accelerate the transition to clean energy technologies.

The Clean Energy Ministerial will be co-chaired by UK Energy Secretary Edward Davey and US Energy Secretary Dr Steven Chu.

At this meeting Britain and the United States will sign an agreement to collaborate on the development of floating wind turbine technology to generate power in deep waters currently off limits to conventional turbines but where the wind is much stronger.

Energy Secretary Edward Davey said “Britain has more wind turbines installed around its shores than any other country in the world and our market is rated year after year as the most attractive market among investors.

“Offshore wind is critical for the UK’s energy future and there is big interest around the world in what we’re doing.

“Floating wind turbines will allow us to exploit more of the our wind resource, potentially more cheaply.

“Turbines will be able to locate in ever deeper waters where the wind is stronger but without the expense of foundations down to the seabed or having to undertake major repairs out at sea.

“The UK and US are both making funding available for this technology and we’re determined to work together to capitalise on this shared intent.”

The UK benefits from a third of Europe’s offshore wind potential, has the biggest pipeline of projects, and is rated year after year by Ernst & Young as the most attractive market among investors.

Exploiting this economically, particularly in deeper waters off the west of the United Kingdom, will require significant technology developments to build large offshore wind arrays.

Much of the deeper waters between 60 and 100 metres are too deep for fixed structures but benefit from consistently higher wind speeds.

Floating wind technologies could therefore open up new areas off the coast of the UK.

This will ultimately increase the potential of this sector, particularly post 2020 as the available shallow water sites are developed, and will help to meet our decarbonisation and energy security targets.

Major repairs on floating wind platforms can also take place when the devices are towed back to dock which will also help to reduce costs.

In the UK, the Energy Technologies Institute is currently in the process of commissioning a £25 million offshore wind floating system demonstrator.

Participants chosen to take part in the project will be tasked with the objective of producing by 2016 an offshore wind turbine that can produce five to seven MW.

Selection of the organisation to deliver the project is ongoing and an announcement on who will be carrying out the project on behalf of the ETI is expected early next year.

The ETI is also currently investigating various sites that could host the demonstrator and has announced that it is working with WaveHub, 16 kilometres north east of St Ives off the Cornish coast to carry out a site feasibility study.

The US Department of Energy has recently announced a $180 million funding opportunity for up to four Advanced Technology Demonstration Projects in US waters – which potentially could include a floating wind demonstration.

A new Memorandum of Understanding on ‘Collaboration in Energy Related Fields’ being agreed between the UK and US covers collaboration in areas such as power generation (including low carbon technologies to combat climate change), energy transmission and distribution and energy efficiency.

As one of the first examples of work supporting that MOU the UK-US collaboration on floating wind will ensure that both countries align their resources to maximise the impact for both countries.

It will also enable the sharing of best practice and expertise.

Ultimately it is hoped that this approach will result in more cost effective, higher yield floating wind technologies being developed.

The CEM3 will cover energy efficiency, appliances, buildings/industry, electric vehicles, bioenergy, carbon capture and storage, hydropower, solar, wind, energy access and smart grids.

There is a special emphasis on clean energy entrepreneurs and encouraging women to enter the sector.

Energy Ministers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States will attend the conference.

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