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Offshore wind turbines usually stand on towers driven deep into the ocean floor, but that arrangement works only in shallow waters (depths of 15 meters or less) and hence installations are typically close to shore and elicit public opposition.
In 2004, MIT researchers teamed up with wind-turbine experts from the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to integrate a wind turbine with a floating platform similar to those used by off-shore oil rigs. The design uses a tension leg platform (TLP), in which steel tethers connect the corners of the platform to a mooring on the ocean floor. The platform and turbine are thus supported not by an expensive tower but by buoyancy.
According to their analyses, the floater-mounted turbines could work in water depths ranging from 30 to 200 meters. In the Northeast, for example, they could be 50 to 150 kilometers from shore. And the turbine atop each platform could be big--an economic advantage in the wind-farm business. The MIT-NREL design assumes a 5.0 megawatt (MW) experimental turbine now being developed by industry. (Onshore units are 1.5 MW, conventional offshore units, 3.6 MW.)
Paul D. Sclavounos, a professor of mechanical engineering and naval architecture at MIT estimates that building and installing his floating support system should cost a third as much as constructing the type of truss tower now planned for deep-water installations. Installing the tethers, the electrical system, and the cable to the shore is standard procedure. Because of the strong offshore winds, the floating turbines should produce up to twice as much electricity per year (per installed megawatt) as wind turbines now in operation. And because the wind turbines are not permanently attached to the ocean floor, they are a movable asset. If a company with 400 wind turbines serving the Boston area needs more power for New York City, it can unhook some of the floating turbines and tow them south.
Originally posted by V Kaminski
That's so cool! So I went lookin' for more and MIT makes tiny turbines too! I'll post it elswhere not to take away from this valuable thread. These energy advances are exciting... but could obsolete a how bunch of current tech... implications?