The world’s first floating windfarm is beginning to become a reality off the north-east coast of Scotland. One of the giant floating turbines has been put into position, while the remaining four are still awaiting transportation from a Norwegian fjord.
While not the largest turbines in the world at 175m—the new turbines at the Burbo Bank Extension neat them by 20m—the floating turbines are certainly substantial. The nacelle behind the 75m blades is large enough to contain two double-decker buses, and each structure weighs a total of 11,500 tonnes. Norwegian oil company Statoil, which made the turbines, has also focused heavily on the blade technology. The company claims the turbines use revolutionary software to twist the blades to mitigate variations in wind, current and waves, thus enabling the turbines to stay upright.
The new floating technology will enable wind power to be harnessed in locations where the water would be too deep for fixed-bottom turbines. This allows wind turbines to be located further out to sea, for example, where they will not be visible from land and safely removed from the nesting grounds of birds. It could also be a game changer for the west coast of the U.S. and Japan, where waters are too deep for conventional offshore windfarms.
Of course, the more remote a windfarm is, the more problematic it will be to maintain turbines. Lubricant manufacturers like Mobil, the maker of Mobil DTE Light, have therefore developed wind turbine oils with longer service lives and improved oil protection.