Wind turbines

UK to collaborate with US on floating wind turbines

The UK and US will work together to develop "floating" wind turbines, the government has said.

Before this week's clean energy meeting of ministers from 23 countries in London, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced it will collaborate with the US in developing wind technology to generate power in deep waters that are currently off-limits to conventional turbines.

"Offshore wind is critical for the UK's energy future and there is big interest around the world in what we're doing," said Energy Secretary Ed Davey.

"Floating wind turbines will allow us to exploit more of the our wind resource, potentially more cheaply.

"Turbines will be able to locate in ever-deeper waters where the wind is stronger but without the expense of foundations down to the seabed or having to undertake major repairs out at sea."

In order to exploit the UK's huge wind resource, which accounts for around a third of Europe's offshore wind potential, new technology is needed to access waters between 60 and 100m deep: too deep for turbines fixed to the seabed but where wind speeds are consistently higher.

Floating turbines are offshore wind turbines mounted on a floating structure and are designed to generate power in deep waters where conventional turbines are not feasible.

It is hoped that developing the technology will increase the UK's potential for offshore wind power, particularly post-2020 when shallower sites have been developed.

The government believes it could reduce the currently high costs of offshore wind, cutting the expense of seabed foundations and allowing repairs on floating wind platforms to be carried out in port rather than out at sea.

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is commissioning a £25m offshore wind floating system demonstrator which will require the chosen participants to produce an offshore wind turbine which can generate up to 5MW to 7MW by 2016.

The project could be demonstrated off the Cornish coast at the WaveHub site.

In the US, four offshore projects are being backed by the Department of Energy, potentially including a floating wind demonstration.

This week's Clean Energy Ministerial will be co-chaired by UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey and US Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

The two countries are signing a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on a series of areas including power generation, energy efficiency and transmission.

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