Floating wind turbines have huge potential for Norway

Nov 11, 2007 01:00 AM

Floating wind turbines have a "huge potential" for Norway as part of a drive to export clean energy technology and diversify from oil, believes Petroleum and Energy Minister Aaslaug Haga.
"I think Norway should set a goal of being a big exporter of clean and renewable energy," Haga told a seminar during a meeting in Oslo of the Nordic Council grouping Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Norway. "We can do this in many ways but one thing I believe we should research is sea-based wind turbines," she said. "They have a formidable potential."

Sea-based turbines have two main advantages over land-based counterparts -- strong consistent ocean winds and sites well away from the shore, defusing criticism that turbines on land are eyesores. Disadvantages are higher costs and maintenance. Haga said that Norway could draw inspiration from nearby Denmark's success in building wind turbines and from Norway's expertise in offshore oil and gas.
Norway's StatoilHydro has been working on what it says would be the world's first floating wind turbine in a deal with German engineering group Siemens. It says that a prototype could be in place in 2009 but that a broader project would depend on some form of subsidy to ensure that the power generated could compete with cheaper sources of electricity.

The StatoilHydro design is a 200-metre upright steel tube on a concrete base with 80 metres jutting above the water and three blades each 60 metres long.
The turbine is tethered to the seabed by three cables and could operate in waters 700 metres deep.

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