9 Mavromichali street
10679
Athens-Greece
Phone: +30.697.428.6950
E-mail: info@greenjustice.org.gr

Browse: Green Justice » Environment » Engineers race to design world’s biggest offshore wind turbines

Choose:

Find article:

Subscribe to newsletter:

Did you know:

  • If just 25% of U.S. families used 10 fewer plastic bags a month, we would save over 2.5 billion bags a year.
  • Every year we throw away 24 million tons of leaves and grass. Leaves alone account for 75% of our solid waste in the fall.
  • Over 100 pesticide ingredients are suspected to cause birth defects, cancer, and gene mutations.
  • Every ton of recycled office paper saves 380 gallons of oil.
  • About 1% of U.S. landfill space is full of disposable diapers, which take 500 years to decompose.
  • Glass produced from recycled glass instead of raw materials reduces related air pollution by 20%, and water pollution by 50%.
  • Homeowners use up to 10 times more toxic chemicals per acre than farmers.
  • By turning down your central heating thermostat one degree, fuel consumption is cut by as much as 10%.
  • One ton of carbon dioxide that is released in the air can be prevented by replacing every 75 watt light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs.
  • The uncontrolled fishing that is allowed has reduced the amount of commercial species. Some species, up to one-tenth of their original population.
  • Already over half of the world's tropical forests have been lost.
  • The garbage in a landfill stays for a for about 30 years.
  • Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees.
  • Earth is 2/3 water. but all the fresh water streams only represent one hundredth of one percent.
  • 84% of all household waste can be recycled.
  • Computers pose an environmental threat because much of the material that makes them up is hazardous. A typical monitor contains 4-5 pounds of lead.
  • One gallon of motor oil can contaminate up to 2 million gallons of water.
  • Agriculture absorbs 74% of all water taken by humans from rivers, lakes, aquifers and wetlands against 18% for industry and 8% for municipalities.

In cooperation with:

Engineers race to design world’s biggest offshore wind turbines

Engineers race to design world's biggest offshore wind turbines

British, American and Norwegian engineers are in a race to design and build the holy grail of wind turbines – giant, 10MW offshore machines twice the size and power of anything seen before – that could transform the global energy market because of their economies of scale.

Today, a revolutionary British design that mimics a spinning sycamore leaf and which was inspired by floating oil platform technology, entered the race. Leading engineering firm Arup is to work with an academic consortium backed by blue-chip companies including Rolls Royce, Shell and BP to create detailed designs for the “Aerogenerator”, a machine that rotates on its axis and would stretch nearly 275m from blade tip to tip. It is thought that the first machines will be built in 2013-14 following two years of testing.

But the all-British team of designers and engineers, which includes Eden project architects Grimshaw, is in stiff competition with other groups. Earlier this year US wind company Clipper, which has close ties with the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, announced plans to build 10MW “Britannia” turbines in north-east England.

Based on a scaled-up version of the conventional wind turbines now common in the British landscape, these giants would be fixed to the sea bed but would stand nearly 600ft high above the waves. If they prove technically and financially feasible, each turbine should be able to generate enough electricity to provide 5,000-10,000 homes and, says Clipper, should create energy equivalent to 2m barrels of oil in their 25-year lifetime.
Meanwhile, Norwegian firm Sway is planning to build massive floating turbines that would stick straight out of the sea from 100m-deep floating “masts” anchored to the sea bed. An EU-sponsored research project is also investigating 8–10MW turbines, and other American and Danish companies are planning 9MW machines. Full-scale prototyes of all three leading designs are expected to be complete within three years.

“There is a wonderful race on. It’s very tight and the prize is domination of the global offshore wind energy market,” said Feargal Brennan, head of offshore engineering at Cranfield University, where much of the Aerogenerator development work has been carried out.

“The UK has come late to the race, but with 40 years of oil and gas experience we have the chance to lead the world. The new [Aero-generator] turbine is based on semi-submersible oil platform technology and does not have the same weight constraints as a normal wind turbine. The radical new design is half the height of an equivalent [conventional] turbine,” he said. He added that the design could be expanded to produce turbines that generated 20MW or more.

The largest wind turbines currently installed are mostly rated at around 3MW. By comparison, coal power stations typically have a capacity in gigawatts, or thousands of megawatts – it would take 180 of the new giant turbines to generate the equivalent capacity of a coal power station proposed this year for North Ayshire, Scotland.

Engineers say that scale is the key to wind power. Doubling the diameter of a conventional wind turbine theoretically produces four times as much power, but weighs eight times as much and can increase costs by a factor of eight. Offshore power is widely regarded as the future of renewable energy because the wind is much more reliable at sea, larger machines are possible to transport and install and there is far less public opposition.

On land, massive cranes and blades have to be driven to remote hilltops, and planning permission can take many years. However, the present generation of offshore turbines are 30-50% more expensive than their terrestrial counterparts, are harder to maintain and are more prone to corrosion.

The market for offshore power is expected to grow to hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Last year the European Wind Energy Association predicted that Europe would increase its offshore wind power from less than 2GW today to more than 150GW by 2030.

Britain, which has little upland space available for large wind farms, overtook Denmark in offshore wind generation in 2008 and now leads the world with 330 offshore turbines installed. It also has the world’s most ambitious plans to develop the wind resource, being committed to installing 12GW of offshore power by 2012. This is the equivalent of 2,500 of the largest 5MW machines presently developed.

John Sauven, director of Greenpeace UK, said: “It is critical that the UK government does not hinder the development of offshore wind power by cutting budgets for short-term gain. All our energy needs depend on this.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/26/offshore-turbine-britain