Saturday, 7 September 2013

Floating offshore turbines can reduce wind energy cost
5 Jul 2013

Texas leads the U.VICOSC, in energy production with a combination of conventional and alternative energy sources. The state also produces the most wind power of any state in the nation, but with a growing population, there is a demand for more resources of renewable energy. A new design of floating offshore turbines that is being developed by scientists at Texas A&M University may be a cost-effective answer to that challenge.

Typical land-based wind turbines have blades diameters exceeding the wing span of a 747 jet plane. Offshore wind turbine structures can be even larger and are rigidly attached to the sea floor. Near the coast; however, these very large structures can interfere with the ocean view.

Dr. Bert Sweetman, associate professor of Maritime Systems Engineering Texas A&M University at Galveston is studying a new type of structural designs that enable substantial reductions in cost, with only minimal decrease in the amount of electricity generated. Sweetman describes the engineering challenges involved constructing offshore turbines.

"Placing wind turbines beyond sight of land in deep water will require a different type of structure that floats on the sea surface, rather than being fixed to the ocean floor", he said. "Ideally, these floating structures are designed to minimize motion despite wind and wave activity. Unfortunately, this conventional design is very expensive".

Sweetman says the expense, in part, is due to stabilising the large size of wind turbines in deep water. He says cost of these structures could be reduced substantially, if larger motions were found to be acceptable.

"The larger motions of these new structures present a myriad of design issues", Sweetman said. "Like a spinning bicycle wheel, the gyroscopic effect of huge whirling blades makes designs of these offshore structures uniquely challenging".

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