Norwegian wind turbine manufacturer Sway has decided to test its sea legs and put its product many miles offshore. The problem with wind turbines has been traditionally, the “not in my backyard” syndrome, where people may like the idea of them for generating renewable energy, but they don’t want to have to look at them.
Sway is addressing this “out of sight, out of mind” issue by developing wind turbines, that can be hauled many miles offshore into deep water, tether them there while sending the electricity back to shore via a 20 mile or so umbilical cable. Sway has just gotten an infusion of $30 million from Norwegian energy giant StatoilHydro to develop the offshore wind turbines.
The 275-foot tall wind turbines will be placed in deep water locations mainly in northern regions with sustainable winds. Below the floating turbines will be 300-ft of counterbalance along with a tether and ballast so that the structures don’t float away even during storms.
The 5-megawatt Sway wind turbines are attractive because, first they will be far enough out to sea where only a few gulls and passing ships will see them and second, according to founder Eystein Borgen their price will approach 9-cents per kwh. StatoilHydro is cautious about this low figure, however, but is backing this project in order to stake their claim in the developing wind energy marketplace.
Now, with the concurrent development of water turbines and deep-water wind turbines, one has to wonder when companies will combine technologies and develop floating platforms that take advantage of both wind and water currents many miles out to sea? Combined water and wind turbine platforms in some locations could use both natural energy sources, piping back the juice via one long electrical cord like manufacturers from both industries are currently proposing.
The idea makes sense, so let’s see who will be first to come up with a working prototype.