Global race underway to develop floating offshore wind turbines.

Guardian: “The Windfloat turbine is one of the frontrunners in a global race to develop flotillas of wind turbines that can conquer the deep oceans and reap the strongest winds on the planet. Existing offshore wind turbines, standing on concrete and steel foundations driven into the ocean floor, flounder on heavy costs in depths greater than about 40 metres.”
“….In the UK, home to some of the world’s best winds and already hosting the most offshore windfarms, floating turbines could arrive as soon as 2016. Far out to sea, they could also tackle the galeforce antipathy that in some areas have blown out plans for onshore turbines.
Perching a tall windblown tower on a floating platform might seem optimistic, but hundreds of millions of dollars have already been sunk into a menagerie of prototype technologies (see The race to float below) and more than 40 projects are in various stages of development. Most are inspired by rugged oil and gas rigs that have weathered storms for decades.
….The platform is only the second fullscale floating turbine to be deployed at sea and has survived a brutal winter of storms that blasted Portugal’s coast, removing beaches
….The turbines’ blades reach 120m above the sea, stabilised by a three-pillared platform, 35m on each side. The standard 2MW turbine fixed on top has been generating electricity since 2012 and is about to pump out its 10 billionth kilowatt-hour. The rig’s legs, extending 20m under the sea, contain ballast water which shifts around to control swaying.
….Principle Power’s consortium, which includes the major Iberian energy companies EDP and Repsol, have won a promised €50m of EU support to scale up and deliver three or four huge 6-8GW floating turbines off Portugal by 2017, and are now raising the €100m needed to go ahead. They also aim to have five 6GW turbines in 350m-deep water off Oregonin the US by 2017, aided by $50m for the Department of Energy.
Japan is also set to be a big player, with its high population and steeply shelving coasts. “It became a market overnight, after Fukushima, and the Japanese are moving very fast,” says Weinstein. Japan’s first floating turbine started operation in November 2013 and the industrial giants of Mitsibushi and Mitsui are both in the race to install 1GW by 2020 – equivalent to a nuclear power station – including 80 turbines off the Fukushima coast.
….The first fullscale floating turbine – Hywind – went to sea off Stavanger, Norway in 200m-deep water and sent electricity to the grid from 2010. Its design is radically different: a single, very long ballast column sinking 100m below the sea surface. Like Windfloat, it is loosely anchored to the sea bed with mooring lines.
Morton Eeks, from Hywind’s developer Statoil, says one feature of the design is a positioning system: “You can remote control it to keep it on the site you want to get the best wind.” Statoil next intends to tow five 6MW turbines to the Buchan Deep, 25km off Peterhead in Scotland, as early as 2016.”