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Sierra Daily

Apr 23, 2012

Can a Wind Farm Float?

0059385  - Hywind on location - Photo Trude Refsahl - StatoilU.K. and U.S. energy regulators are looking to collaborate on the development of wind farms that float far offshore, according to the Guardian (via the New York Times Green blog). What seems like a precariously impractical idea actually relies on proven technology that is used in the offshore oil and gas industry. Instead of being mounted in the seabed in shallow water near a coastline, a wind turbine can be “slack anchored” in deep water, and moves with the seas.

The advantages include strong, consistent winds and -- no small matter -- less chance that coastal dwellers’ views will be marred. The much contested Cape Wind project off Cape Cod, scheduled to begin operating in 2014, is 5 miles from the nearest land; an anchored facility could be 10 or so miles out. The Norwegian company Statoil has operated a floating turbine 7 miles off the Norwegian coast in 200 meters (656 feet) of water since 2009, and the company has proposed a facility that would sit 13.8 miles off the Maine coast in water as deep as 500 feet, with construction starting in 2016.

Photo by Trude Refsahl / Statoil 

Blog photo   HS_ReedMcManus (1)Reed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra. He has worked at the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term.  For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas Ever Thus.” 


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