World's first floating wind farm emerges off coast of Scotland

By Roger Harrabin BBC environment analyst, Norway

  • 23 July 2017

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The world’s first full-scale floating wind farm has started to take shape off the north-east coast of Scotland.

The revolutionary technology will allow wind power to be harvested in waters too deep for the current conventional bottom-standing turbines.

The Peterhead wind farm, known as Hywind, is a trial which will bring power to 20,000 homes.

Manufacturer Statoil says output from the turbines is expected to equal or surpass generation from current ones.

It hopes to cash in on a boom in the technology, especially in Japan and the west coast of the US, where waters are deep.

“This is a tech development project to ensure it’s working in open sea conditions. It’s a game-changer for floating wind power and we are sure it will help bring costs down,” said Leif Delp, project director for Hywind.

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Image caption The huge turbines are currently being moved into place

So far, one giant turbine has already been moved into place, while four more wait in readiness in a Norwegian fjord.

By the end of the month they’ll all have been towed to 15 miles (25km) off Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, where they’ll float upright like giant fishing floats.

While the turbines are currently very expensive to make, Statoil believes that in the future it will be able to dramatically reduce costs in the same way that manufacturers already have for conventional offshore turbines.

“I think eventually we will see floating wind farms compete without subsidy – but to do that we need to get building at scale,” said Mr Delp.


How big? The jaw-dropping dimensions of the technology used:

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Image caption The turbines can operate in water up to a kilometre deep

  • The tower, including the blades, stretches to 175m (575ft), dwarfing Big Ben
  • Each tower weighs 11,500 tonnes
  • The box behind the blades – the nacelle – could hold two double-decker buses
  • Each blade is 75m – almost the wing span of an Airbus
  • The turbines can operate in water up to a kilometre deep
  • The blades on the towers have been a particular focus for innovation.
  • Statoil says the blades harness breakthrough software – which holds the tower upright by twisting the blades to dampen motions from wind, waves and currents.

The operation to begin shifting the first of the 11,500 tonne giants happened dramatically in the half-light of a Norwegian summer night.

Crews secured thick cables to tug boats and used remote-controlled submarines to check for obstacles.

Finally the giant was on the move, floating on a sealed vase-like tube 78m deep, its bottom filled with iron ore to weight the base and keep it upright in the water.

The price of energy from bottom-standing offshore wind farms has plummeted 32% since 2012 – far faster that anyone predicted.

The price is now four years ahead of the government’s expected target, and another big price drop is expected, taking offshore wind to a much lower price than new nuclear power.

Full Article Here:

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peter

The part of me that loves big machines is delighted. The part of me that thinks this is a potential huge white elephant not so much.

I am equally twisted.

dmacleo

I rotate 360 deg between liking the engineering and disliking the applications its used for.

ddpalmer

Well maybe the technological advances they are making will have actual practical uses.

higley7

“I think eventually we will see floating wind farms compete without subsidy – but to do that we need to get building at scale,” said Mr Delp.
Not a chance ever that this is going to competitive with any energy without subsidies. Imagine the constant motion of the infrastructure that connects these to the shore. And sending this power is costly in the first place. Maintenance is going to be hellish. They might as well have it manned 24/7 with a crew.

Paul Penrose

Translation: Yes, we lose money on every kilowatt produced, but we will make it up on volume. Sheer idiocy.

Wow, I wonder how that top-heavy machinery will stand up to a really good gale. No doubt it’s well anchored to the sea bed (one hopes), but that’s a lot of weight up top, with lovely big blades to catch the wind even if feathered, and it looks to be on a pretty small pontoon. Lots of lovely salt air, lots of movement, lots of metal fatigue, lots of big wind……..

Reply to Bushkid:
“Finally the giant was on the move, floating on a sealed vase-like tube 78m deep, its bottom filled with iron ore to weight the base and keep it upright in the water.”
So these have ballast to keep them upright. That makes sense. What I wonder about is hiring someone who is crazy enough to climb up inside a bobbing and tilting tower to perform maintenance.

george lanham

Hi Janice
You can winch the head down to sea level. Maybe.

george lanham

Actually, every time I see a wind turbine I think how many MRI scanners you could buy with the money. Around half a dozen each.

Tony

Such a pessimist. Think of them more as grant harvesters.

wws

Davy Jones is eagerly rubbing his hands together, saying “Welcome to me locker, lads, I got plenty of room for ye!”
You don’t give Davy a challenge like this and just expect him to ignore it.

Erny72

Hi Bushkid,
Indeed these are anchored, aside from the ballasted end of the shaft that’s submerged, there are three tension legs (steel cables) moored to the seabed with suction anchors. What’s not mentioned in this article/excerpt is that Hywind was already tested, a single unit being moored off the western coast of Norway for two years and unfortunately the gales and waves of the Norwegian North Sea weren’t able to sink it.
The next step will be to connect the Hywinds up to batteries (no doubt Elon Musk is hovering in the wings like a vulture waiting for his next victim) and the result will be called ‘batwind’; not sure whether this means that Noggies are fans of batman or unaware that down under at least ‘a bat’ is one of many euphemisms for ‘hand to gland combat’.

Mike McMillan

Batteries, that’s the ticket. Right now you fire up the diesels and tow the thing, like Cap’n Ahab rowing the becalmed Pequod to fresher winds. With batteries charged up from the good times, you can just flip the blades around and propeller yourself to where you want.
Good luck to them. I’d be happy to see one of these schemes actually work out sans subsidies.

Griff

Bushkid, the world’s first offshore windfarm was retired and dismantled this year, after 25 years and had no failure from corrosion (etc)
The designs can cope with it… it isn’t a factor.
http://decomnorthsea.com/news/dong-energy-retiring-worlds-first-offshore-wind-farm

D. J. Hawkins

The article I found on this some months ago when this was announced at WUWT had some numbers in it. Total cost per kW-hr was some $0.30 or so, but there was no information on maintenance costs, so probably higher. Also didn’t include the infrastructure as I recall.

Griff, if the windfarm is not being affected by “corrosion (etc)” … then why did they take it down and scrap it after only 25 years? I mean, we certainly don’t throw away our coal or gas-fired power plants after 25 years … the average coal plant lifespan is 42 years, and the oldest one in the US is 70 years old.
But these turbines, which you claim have no problems from “corrosion (etc)” are being recycled after only 25 years.
w.

The problem with comparing the lifespan of a wind turbine with a coal plant is that there is not enough of an experience base to make the comparison. For example if the “oldest” operating plant in the US is 70 years, the “oldest” operating wind turbine is 40 ( https://cleantechnica.com/2015/05/21/oldest-operating-wind-turbine-world-turning-40/ ) So the in about 20-30 years we will have enough operating experience with wind turbines to make a valid comparison between the two.

M Seward

Griff,
the factor is it has been over engineered cope with the marine environment to start with, has cost a relative motza to build and put in situ and will cost a motza to service. You can go to a land based turbine in a small motor vehicle you need a significant workboat plus crew just to get to one of these contraptions.
The energy should not just be free, Gaia should be paying us but the stingy old bat just won’t.

D. J. Hawkins

@Mark S Johnson
There are hundreds of coal-fired power plants in the US over the past hundred year or so. There are 10’s of thousands of wind turbines. The cumulative life times are comparable, allowing a more apples to apples comparison today, not later.

scraft1

It’s not anchored to the seabed. That’s the whole point of the article.

fred4d

It is not standing on the seabed, it is anchored, which is why there is a 1,000 meter depth limit. Normal wind turbines are stuck on big towers, either sitting on land or in relatively shallow water

Erny72

scraft, don’t bother believing everything written in the lying press; today’s excuse for a journalist can’t be trusted to research diarrhoea without missing the minor detail that the disease involves raw liquid sewage frequently passing through one’s rear iris.
If Harrabin had claimed that floating turbines aren’t moored, he’d be an even bigger waste of space than being an environment correspondent at the BBC implies, but in fairness to him I don’t see in the excerpt any claim to the effect that they aren’t anchored to the seabed; the point of the article is that the turbine towers aren’t standing on the seafloor, they’re floating.
Statoil NES has a page on Hywind – https://www.statoil.com/en/what-we-do/hywind-where-the-wind-takes-us.html – about a third of the way down the page in the ‘Hywind Scotland—the world’s first floating offshore wind park’ paragraph there’s a schematic of five Hywind turbines captioned “This is how the wind turbines will be positioned in the water offshore Peterhead. They are anchored up with three suction anchors each, and linked together to send the electricity produced onshore”. Even the thickipedia page on Hywind shows the moorings.
The sexy software that alters the blade pitch to dampen motions from wind, waves and currents is intended to reduce the loads imparted on the tower by the interaction of met/ocean motions and the forces imparted on the tower by the wind acting on the turbine itself; it’s not intended to be a poor man’s dynamic positioning system that can do away with anchors.

oeman50

It has to be anchored because it is connected to a stout electrical cable conducting the power back to shore.

More global warming alarmist bunk. build more coal and natural gas plants.

Pop Piasa

Now, if we only had Tesla’s achievements to get the electricity to land without cables. Of course, he would have no use for that puny, unreliable power source…

Gamecock

Nikola, I presume.

Mike McMillan

Tesla’s scheme would have generated so much ozone we would never have had the ozone holes endangering all those penguins.

PUMPSUMP

Oh dear. Why would we want to build a high frequency dual air cored series resonant induction transformer, whose reactive field decreases much faster than the inverse square law? What actual benefit would that give, bar the potential for spectacular high voltage zero current lightshow?

Med Bennett

I’ve really come to detest wind turbines for many reasons.

jdgalt

If it stays up long enough to get a count, I want to see a published comparison score for number of birds killed.

Pop Piasa

The problem might be Whales as well as seabirds. Infrasound would be more effective emitted from a floating vessel than from a tower on a pier foundation.

Leonard Lane

John, agree. And now they after the sea birds after slaughtering rapt0prs, other birds, and bats.

Leonard Lane

Pop you are right, these may end up beaching and otherwise harming untold numbers of whales. To bad a little wildlife research couldn’t be done before they start these intermittent and unreliable schemes.

Germonio

Are you equally worried about the effects of the explosions used for seismic surveys for oil and gas?

“Are you equally worried about the effects of the explosions used for seismic surveys for oil and gas?”
No. Because those are sporadic and short lived. Once they are complete operations move elsewhere. I would like to see proper research conducted by scientists on the potential effects of offshore wind farm rotor noise on cetaceans before proceeding with these installations. If indeed it is even possible these days to have any honest unbiased research carried out in this general area.

Are you equally worried about the effects of the explosions used for seismic surveys for oil and gas?

What “explosions”?

6. STRANDING AND MORTALITY
Marine mammals close to underwater detonations of high explosive can be killed or severely injured, and the auditory organs are especially susceptible to injury (Ketten et al., 1993; Ketten, 1995). Airgun pulses are less energetic and their peak amplitudes have slower rise times. To date, there is no evidence that serious injury, death, or stranding by marine mammals can occur from exposure to airgun pulses, even in the case of large airgun arrays. Additionally, Hilcorp’s project will use low-intensity sonar equipment in shallow water. NMFS does not expect any marine mammals will incur injury or mortality in the shallow waters off Beaufort Sea or strand as a result of the proposed geohazard survey.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2015/05/15/2015-11701/takes-of-marine-mammals-incidental-to-specified-activities-taking-marine-mammals-incidental-to

Marine airguns are no louder than many other naturally occurring and anthropogenic “sounds in the marine environment”…
[caption id="attachment_161923" align="alignnone" width="646"]marinesounds http://www.ogp.org.uk/pubs/358.pdf%5B/caption%5D

Despite this total lack of evidence that marine air guns are harmful to marine mammals, marine geophysical contractors take extreme precautions in order to avoid disturbing marine mammals.

In spite of a lack of evidence linking seismic surveys to strandings, geophysical contractors have implemented industry-wide mitigation practices to avoid impacts on marine species. Regulators and seismic surveyors establish a marine mammal exclusion zone before beginning operations, and they hire trained observers with the authority to stop operations if a sensitive species is spotted within the exclusion zone. Operators also gradually ramp up sound emissions and move their vessels slowly, in order to allow marine mammals to move away from the area before full operation begins.
http://internationalgeophysicaltxprod.weblinkconnect.com/uploads/4/5/0/7/45074397/iagc_1_pager_strandings_formatted_final_2014_06_12.pdf

http://www.iagc.org/marine-environment.html
http://internationalgeophysicaltxprod.weblinkconnect.com/uploads/4/5/0/7/45074397/seismic-survey-factsheet_final_iagc.pdf

Mitigation and monitoring must be proportionate to the potential risks identified by an environmental assessment and specific to the local environment and the operation being undertaken. Measures commonly used by the seismic industry include timing seismic surveys to avoid known areas of biological significance, such as whale foraging or breeding areas or avoiding seasonal marine life occurrences such as peak whale and dolphin activity seasons or migration.
Before a seismic operation begins, visual monitoring is undertaken to check for the presence of marine mammals and other marine species within a specified precautionary, or exclusion zone, often using dedicated marine mammal observers (MMOs) or protected species observers (PSOs).
Further monitoring may be done using passive acoustic monitoring technology (PAM), which may detect vocalizing marine animals, especially during low visibility and nighttime conditions. In the event marine animals are detected in the exclusion zone, seismic operation will not begin for a certain time period until the marine animal moves away. Similarly, a seismic survey will shut down if the marine animal is observed entering the exclusion zone once operations have begun.
Soft-start or ramping-up procedures are undertaken by seismic vessels as a matter of general operational procedure. Soft starts involve activating a small section of the acoustic sound arrays over a period of time, gradually getting louder until the full acoustic array is operating. This measure also allows a marine animal to swim away before the acoustic source is activated at full strength.
http://www.iagc.org/uploads/4/5/0/7/45074397/iagc_1_pager_protectingmarineenv_final_2016.pdf

iagc1

Griff

Birds generally hug the coasts or use shallower areas for feeding… wind farms around the UK have to survey for birds and are put up where there isn’t a bird risk… the RSPB has successfully stopped a number where there would have been a problem.
Additionally the Danes did a long running study using observers and lidar on two of their offshore wind farms, which is actually near a migration route…
They found very low casualties… 40 in 235,000 passing birds.
http://www.folkecenter.net/mediafiles/folkecenter/pdf/final_results_of_bird_studies_at_the_offshore_wind_farms_at_nysted_and_horns_rev_denmark.pdf
offshore wind, properly sited, is not a problem for birds

catweazle666

Have you apologised to Dr. Crockford for maliciously lying about her professional qualifications yet Skanky?

Griff July 29, 2017 at 1:14 am

Birds generally hug the coasts or use shallower areas for feeding… wind farms around the UK have to survey for birds and are put up where there isn’t a bird risk… the RSPB has successfully stopped a number where there would have been a problem.

I do love blind optimists.

Wind turbines have killed more birds of prey than persecution this year

Rare white tailed sea eagle among four raptors killed by turbine blades, according to official report
By Auslan Cramb, Scottish Correspondent5:25PM GMT 29 Oct 2014
Wind turbines have killed more birds of prey in Scotland this year, including a rare white tailed sea eagle, than deliberate poisoning or shooting, an official report has revealed.

and

Wind turbine collisions killing hundreds of UK bats each month, study finds

Research suggests ecological impact assessments carried out for windfarms are not adequately predicting bat activity or risks
Using sniffer dogs, scientists at the University of Exeter report that they hunted for bat carcasses at 46 windfarms across the UK, 29 of which had ecological impact assessments available.
Monday 7 November 2016 12.00 EST Last modified on Friday 10 February 2017 05.39 EST
Hundreds of bats are being killed in collisions with wind turbines in the UK each month, despite ecological impact assessments predicting that many windfarms were unlikely to affect such animals, according to a new study.

Gosh … they THOUGHT they were siting them where there were no bats … oopsie …
and

Windfarms: bird mortality cover-up in the UK

The British public is being misinformed regarding bird mortality at wind farms, denounce Save the Eagles International (STEI) and the World Council for Nature (WCFN). It is contrary to fact to pretend that these industrial structures are “carefully sited” so as to avoid risks to birds and bats. It is equally false to allege that grouse and other ground-nesting birds don’t mind laying their eggs under wind turbines, or that raptors avoid these dangerous areas.
In a recent article, The Guardian states: “Studies in the UK had found evidence that birds of prey in particular avoided wind farms” (1). But if you look closely at the picture shown in the article, you’ll notice that the two birds flying between the turbines are raptors, red kites in fact, which were reintroduced in the UK at great cost. “So! – they avoid wind farms, eh?” – quips STEI’s President Mark Duchamp.
In Germany, where a few wind farms have been loosely monitored for bird and bat mortality, the government has disclosed the number of carcasses reported so far: 69 eagles, 186 kites, 192 buzzards, 13 harriers, 59 falcons, 12 hawks, 7 ospreys, plus hundreds more birds of all sizes and even more bats (2). “These figures are just a small sample of the ongoing massacre”, comments Duchamp, who cites this example: “Ubbo Mammen, an ornithologist commissioned by the German government, estimates that 200-300 Red Kites are being killed yearly by wind turbines in Germany” (3). These machines are driving many rare species into extinction, warns Mark.

Sorry, griff, but once again the facts don’t bear out your claims.
w.

Pop Piasa

I’ll repost this for anyone who hasn’t seen it
SUSTAINABLE REALITY
If you like your energy sustainable,
You must first make the climate trainable.
With sun day and night,
And the wind always right…
I think it just might be attainable!
Solar and wind are renewable,
But only on small scales prove doable
They can kill birds and bats
And displace habitats…
True ecologists find that eschew-able.
We would, likely, employ keener vision
Funding hydro and nuclear fission.
(The molten salt kind,
For our peace of mind)
And solar storm-proofed grids of transmission.
Affordable energy, for the third world poor
Will unlock that vital, virtual door
To an affluent life,
A job and a wife
With less children than folks raised before.
So, curtailing overpopulation
Is not about “limiting nations
On what they can do
Which emits CO2”…
It relies on industrialization!

Patrick MJD

Sustainability has ALWAYS been about sustaining revenue streams. Once you got your grip on a commodity like energy, you control the supply and thus price. Now that so many people are “addicted” to smart phone apps and instant access, messaging, tweeting, blah blah blah…even in rural parts of Africa, you are hooked for life. It’s the heroin for life. Once you have everyone hooked, you have control. Mobile phone networks grea very fast in the early 2000’s in Ethiopia so much so that the “authorities” blocked txt msgs.
It’s like in the corporate world, moving from locally installed copies of Office 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 to Office 365, once you do that you are on an “addict’s” path. For your corporation to operate, or for you to “operate”, you have to keep paying your supplier.

richardM

Maintenance costs are going to eat this efforts lunch. How much you want to bet these were all designed for 85% of possible weather conditions with some safety factor that will prove inadequate?

Not so sure of that. I used to work in the North Sea and Statoil kinda know what they’re doing by now with giant floating and freestanding structures. If you’ll forgive the unforgivable pun this little toy should be a breeze for them.

mike

Fine, lots of reliability on floating and anchoring. I think the concern is the windmill, blades and generator, which have been maintenance hogs onshore.

ROM

Any movement in the tower being swaying or oscillating with those multi tonne rotor blades turning at speed will probably lead to extreme precessional forces being placed on the rotor shaft and bearings which in the land and fixed base turbines already have enough problems due to bearing failures.
Major breakups of structures of an entire turbine with the consequent drifting wreckage will then be the outcome of such a severe precessional inducing event and scenario.
Plus invariably there will be breakaways of floating turbines from wind farms during severe storms which might make a right royal mess of the good number of the other turbines in a farm/s due to collisions withn other turbines.
And then for some further excitement, imagine the scenario of a massive wind turbine drifting at speed downwind and colliding with a fully manned North Sea oil platform.
Plus a few breakaway turbines floating willy nilly across some of the busiest shipping routes in the world is going to create further problems.
The North Sea shipping lanes are already compromised by the wind farm turbines enroaching into some of the most heavily travelled shipping lanes in any case without having the prospects of basically uncontrolled exploitation of the deeper North Sea shipping routes by wind turbine scammers and being further restricted by floating and occasionally drifting turbines weighing as much as a freighter but with no control at all of direction and speed of drift.
Seems that a major requirement for any floating ocean based turbine farm ownership is insurance policies that will cover mega millions of dollars worth of potential damage to other ocean users and their equipment and lives.
And a lengthy goal term for the directors and executives of those turbine owning corporations if they fail to cover every potential damaging contogency that might and invariably will affect other ocean user, ocean wild life and national governments and people.

Daz

How’s it deal with a eighty foot wave ?

Hilarious – marine structure (accelerated corrosion / wear and tear) combined with wind technology (heavy wear and tear on the bearings) towed out into the North Sea. I wonder how much money they’re going to waste keeping it going?

Have you not understood this yet? These monstrous mills are just a way of Statoil gaining a stamp of reusable energy. They are polishing their medal of sustainability. The mills have not started turning yet, and may actually work for 10 – 15 years, perhaps even producing some money. But it’s more likely that they will not be working after 15 years and 5 or 10 normal storms from the NW, than they will be working.

Robert of Texas

Either it can compete and supply reliable energy without subsidies or it can’t. If it can, then it will succeed. If it can’t, then it will be yet another huge waste of our precious tax dollars.
I am guessing…it can’t. But I hope I am wrong.

benofhouston

Read this. They have already decided its success and it hasn’t even gotten out to sea yet.

gnome

If it can compete with subsidies it will succeed as long as it gets the subsidies. If it can’t, without, then it still can with.
The real world doesn’t intrude while the subsidies flow.

I question their “cheaper” claim. Maybe nameplate vs total $$, but show me actual $/kW-hr sold over 25 years…

Gary Pearse

Data from the ‘end justifies the means’ progressives? At a mine, costs include everything including final decommissioning and reclamation,for which a bond must be purchased and updated at regular intervals. See if you can get a copy of their technical-economic feasibility study – even it should be audited.

bernie1815

Notice that the cost comparison is with nuclear not conventional gas.
Like others I would love to see the life expectancy of off shore wind turbines.

ResouceGuy

… and the gales of November came early.

Cold in Wisconsin

How does the electricity get to shore? That little detail is not detailed here…..I’d hate to be nearby when the first one breaks free….

Louis

That was my first thought, too. It would require long power cables to get the electricity 15 miles back to shore. What would keep the cables from getting tangled up in fishing equipment or being beaten about by currents in a storm?

Louis, I’m expecting they will trench it. Submarine pipelines and cables aren’t new in the world you know.

Louis

After reading several articles on this, I finally found one from last November that briefly mentions how they plan to get the generated power back to shore:
“Unlike land-based wind turbines, the Hywind turbines will be anchored in the seabed and will transport their generated electricity via undersea cables to the shore.”
https://www.sciencealert.com/scotland-to-build-world-s-largest-floating-wind-farm

The boat is upside down. That’s the propeller.

Clay Sanborn

Good one.

Me, I’m a sailor. I’ve been at sea in forty foot waves and fifty-knot winds … and that’s because I’ve never been to sea in a serious storm. Both numbers can get a whole lot bigger than that.
Man has claimed mechanical dominion over the ocean ever since the unsinkable Titanic … and generally with the same results. A combination of wind, wave, corrosion, and human error have put paid to the biggest structures we’ve entrusted to the bosom of the sea.
The bizarre part to me is the scale of this test. Wouldn’t it make much more sense to start with something a bit smaller?
In any case, I’d offer reasonable money that a) maintenance costs will be well above estimates, b) blades will tend to shear off, and c) overall lifetime will be less than expected.
As long as I’m not the poor sod who has to go out in a small boat, make a dangerous transittion from the boat to the floating nightmare, climb up a hundred metres (330 feet) inside the tower, oil the bearings and check the gauges, climb down a hundred metres, make the transfer back to the boat, and head to shore.
And don’t even think about what might be involved in say replacing the gearbox or the generator rotor …
w.

“A combination of wind, wave, corrosion, and human error have put paid to the biggest structures we’ve entrusted to the bosom of the sea.”
Er no. Nice Shakespearean imagery but have a look at the Condeep platforms in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. These are the largest structures ever built and no, they have not been “put paid to”. Nor have any of the structures floating, tethered, free standing gravity based or piled in the North Sea.
“The bizarre part to me is the scale of this test. Wouldn’t it make much more sense to start with something a bit smaller?”
I would trust Statoil engineers to work out what is the appropriate scale – even if I doubt the sanity of the whole enterprise but I’m pretty confident that plenty of Statoil engineers will likewise doubt but nevertheless be capable of working out the appropriate scale.
“b) blades will tend to shear off, “
What do you mean by this? Are you suggesting it is beyond current technology to design a turbine blade fit for North Sea conditions? You know these Norwegians have been operating out there for a long time and have quite a lot of environmental and engineering data.

Patrick MJD

And now oodles of other people’s money too!

cephus0 July 29, 2017 at 2:12 am Edit

“A combination of wind, wave, corrosion, and human error have put paid to the biggest structures we’ve entrusted to the bosom of the sea.”
Er no. Nice Shakespearean imagery but have a look at the Condeep platforms in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. These are the largest structures ever built and no, they have not been “put paid to”. Nor have any of the structures floating, tethered, free standing gravity based or piled in the North Sea.

Er yes. Regarding Condeep, I find this:

Sleipner A is a combined accommodations, production and processing offshore platform at the Sleipner East gas field in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. It is a Condeep-type oil platform, built in Norway by the company Norwegian Contractors for Statoil.
It is known for its catastrophic failure on 23 August 1991, due to a design flaw, that resulted from an error caused by unconservative concrete codes[1] and inaccurate Finite element analysis modelling of the tricell, which formed part of the ballasting/flotation system.[2]

So your claim of no Condeep failures is not true in the slightest … and I note that the platform was built for Statoil, the same folks doing the wind farm.
And regarding failures in the North Sea platforms, it seem you’ve never heard of the Piper Alpha North Sea disaster that killed 167, or the capsize of the Alexander L. Kielland in the North Sea that killed 123.
But why are you limiting this to the North Sea? We also have:
• the Seacrest Drillship disaster, South China Sea, Thailand
• the Ocean Ranger oil rig disaster, Canada
• the Glomar Java Sea Drillship disaster, South China Sea
• the Bohai 2 oil rig disaster, China
• the Enchova Central Platform disaster, Brazil
• the Mumbai High North disaster, Indian Ocean
• the Usumacinta Jack-up disaster, Gulf of Mexico
• the C.P. Baker Drilling Barge disaster, Gulf of Mexico

“The bizarre part to me is the scale of this test. Wouldn’t it make much more sense to start with something a bit smaller?”

I would trust Statoil engineers to work out what is the appropriate scale – even if I doubt the sanity of the whole enterprise but I’m pretty confident that plenty of Statoil engineers will likewise doubt but nevertheless be capable of working out the appropriate scale.

Perhaps … it seems you have more trust in the genius of engineers than I do. I figure they are fallible, and the world has borne out my judgement over and over.

“b) blades will tend to shear off, “

What do you mean by this? Are you suggesting it is beyond current technology to design a turbine blade fit for North Sea conditions? You know these Norwegians have been operating out there for a long time and have quite a lot of environmental and engineering data.

Huh? I am suggesting that engineers, Norwegian or not, know a whole lot more about building wind turbines on stable land platforms than they do about building them to float at sea … and there have been LOTS of sheared off blades on land based turbines.
Why on earth do you think it would not happen at sea? Davy Jones is NOT the engineer’s friend …
Gotta say … you trust engineers a whole lot more than you should. The Condeep structure I discussed above, you know, the Condeep style of construction that you said never failed but actually did fail, went down because of BAD NORWEGIAN ENGINEERING.
Regards,
w.

Valaker

Willis Eschenbach is spreading false information regarding Condeep and Sleipner. Sleipner sunk during testing in Stavanger and long before the top deck was put on place. No lifes were lost.
Eschenbach is painting a picture that me and others asserts that off shore wind mill operations are risk free, and that Norwegian offshore oil production is a series of catastrophes. This is bullshit, compared to American Coal Production – a fare more simple operation – offshore oil operations in the North Sea are far safer. Just look at the numbers;
https://arlweb.msha.gov/stats/centurystats/coalstats.asp
From 1990 to date, there has been 54 fatalities in Norwegian sector, there are approximately 35.000 individuals involved in offshore operations. Compared to this mortality rate, American Coal Industry is a killing field.

Willis, are you trolling me? That is an inexplicably silly post. You said “A combination of wind, wave, corrosion, and human error have put paid to the biggest structures we’ve entrusted to the bosom of the sea.” I replied that this simply isn’t true. Because it isn’t. And you raise Sleipner A, Piper Alpha and Alexander L. Kielland as support for your bizarre assertions. Sleipner A failed and sank in a fjord while still under construction, Piper Alpha was a tragic and fatal gas fire and Alexander L. Kielland failed in service owing to a fatigue crack caused be entirely metallurgically related defects.
All three of these were engineering issues unrelated to ‘wind, wave, corrosion or any bosoms of the sea’ Your last point about ‘human error’ is of course obviously true but is trivially so for each and every area of human engineering endeavour ever essayed. If we were to take your point seriously no one would build anything ever again.
The rest of the post is too depressingly silly to even address.

John W. Garrett

Statoil is not exactly a novice at this sort of thing. In any event, time will tell.
I’d love to know whose capital is at risk in this venture.

Patrick MJD

“John W. Garrett July 29, 2017 at 4:11 am
I’d love to know whose capital is at risk in this venture.”
Scottish taxpayers.

Klem

I expect the turbines working lifetimes will be significantly reduced and so will their power output. Once those towers and blades are coated in ice a foot thick they could conceivably be frozen immovable until spring.
In reality their power output is irrelevant, I think everyone understands now that wind farms are really just for show.

Griff

Really?
11% of UK electricity came from wind power in 2016.
That’s just for show?

Valaker

The concept has been tested with a 2,3 MW mill since 2009 at the west coast of Norway with good results;
Hywind Demo Produksjon [GWh] Kapasitetsfaktor
2010 7,4 GWh 36,7 %
2011 10,1 GWh 50,1 %
2012 7,5 GWh 37,2 %
2013 8,3 GWh 41,2 %
2014 7,7 GWh 38,2 %
Mean 8,2 GWh 40,7 %
The Karmøy test mill has produced electric power for the Norwegian grid who don’t need it since we have a surplus of hydropower. The owner, Statoil, will move the mill to produce electricity for offshore oil installations in order to reduce power production by gas. The problems You are addressing is solved, we have already developed a series of vessels that can do all types of maintenance.
Here’s i video that illustrates the dimensions;

Thanks, Valaker, that’s interesting. I find it ironic that it is being used to provide electricity to power offshore oil platforms …
They also claim that the capacity factor is 40%, which seems unlikely.
As to whether “The problems You are addressing is solved …”, only time will tell if that is true. The operation of one small test mill certainly doesn’t prove your claim.
w.

Valaker

“I find it ironic that it is being used to provide electricity to power offshore oil platforms …”
So do I, but the Norwegian CO2 budget includes what we emit when we are producing oil, but not what the oil or gas we are producing will emit when it’s burned in Germany. A very silly consequence of this policy, is that the new fields that are under development now, has all it’s prosess power from electric kabels from the coast. They could produce cheap electrical power from surplus gas onboard the platforms, but that will charge the national carbon budget. So we are building extremely costly power supply from the coast, a power supply that at times come from coal burning plants in Poland.
That said, the 40 % “kapasitetsfaktor” is true and will probably be higher in time. This “kapasitetsfaktor” is from the first test mill that was installed in 2009. The new direct drive Siemens generator – and i believe all the Peterhead mills has that technology – will do better.
And when it comes to maintenance and operation, that’s peanuts. We have been doing far more complex stuff than this for 50 years.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ATmD1iXkH8

Valaker July 29, 2017 at 3:56 pm

And when it comes to maintenance and operation, that’s peanuts. We have been doing far more complex stuff than this for 50 years.

You mean more complex stuff like this?

Sleipner A is a combined accommodations, production and processing offshore platform at the Sleipner East gas field in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. It is a Condeep-type oil platform, built in Norway by the company Norwegian Contractors for Statoil.
It is known for its catastrophic failure on 23 August 1991, due to a design flaw, that resulted from an error caused by unconservative concrete codes[1] and inaccurate Finite element analysis modelling of the tricell, which formed part of the ballasting/flotation system.[2]

or maybe this …

Alexander L. Kielland was a Norwegian semi-submersible drilling rig that capsized while working in the Ekofisk oil field in March 1980, killing 123 people. It was a platform of the Pentagone series.
The capsize was the worst disaster in Norwegian waters since World War II. The rig, located approximately 320 km east of Dundee, Scotland, was owned by the Stavanger Drilling Company of Norway.
In March 1981, an investigative report concluded that the rig collapsed due to a fatigue crack in one of its six bracings (bracing D-6), which connected the collapsed D-leg to the rest of the rig.[2] This was traced to a small 6mm fillet weld which joined a non-load-bearing flange plate to this D-6 bracing. This flange plate held a sonar device used during drilling operations. The poor profile of the fillet weld contributed to a reduction in its fatigue strength. Further, the investigation found considerable amounts of lamellar tearing in the flange plate and cold cracks in the butt weld. Cold cracks in the welds, increased stress concentrations due to the weakened flange plate, the poor weld profile, and cyclical stresses (which would be common in the North Sea), seemed to collectively play a role in the rig’s collapse.

Ooops … a Norwegian design flaw plus faulty Norwegian analysis destroyed the Sleipner A, and Norwegian inadequate routine examination of the welding on the Alexander L. Keilland KILLED 123 PEOPLE …
Or perhaps you are basing your “we know maintenance” claim on this:

Norway’s Petroleum and Safety Authority (PSA) says faulty maintenance was to blame for an incident mid-January aboard the jackup rig Maersk Giant where one of the rig’s lifeboats was unintentionally launched.
While testing the lifeboat systems on 14 January 2015, one of the lifeboats unintentionally descended to the sea when the manual brake on the lifeboat winch failed to engage. The PSA says that upon entering the water, the lifeboat drifted beneath the unit and the steel wires holding it were quickly torn off due to the weather conditions.

Ooops … Norwegian “faulty maintenance” …
Look, I’m not busting Norway. Every nation that goes down to the sea in numbers and makes their living there has similar stories. Between storms, salt, and corrosion, the ocean is the worst possible environment for machinery, so it’s no surprise that machines die all the time at sea.
I’m just highlighting the unthinking confidence of those that may have never been through a serious storm at sea … Valaker, given the tiniest opportunity the sea will bite you in the differential, and hubris doesn’t help.
w.

Valaker

The Kielland disaster was 37 years ago, and that was even a French design. The Sleipner was 25 years ago, and these designs are long gone, and no life were lost. In the past 27 years there has been 54 fatalities in Norwegian sector and that includes all operations including shipping and transport, 28 of these fatalities was due to two helicopter accidents with of the shelf helicopters.
https://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katastrofer_og_store_ulykker_i_norsk_petroleumsvirksomhet
And than You can take a look at this statistics;
https://arlweb.msha.gov/stats/centurystats/coalstats.asp
No body has claimed that our North Sea operations are risk free, but we for sure knows these risks, and has by time learned how to handle them. And these wind mills is easy compared to other operations.

Valaker July 30, 2017 at 12:44 am

The Kielland disaster was 37 years ago, and that was even a French design. The Sleipner was 25 years ago, and these designs are long gone, and no lives were lost.
No body has claimed that our North Sea operations are risk free, but we for sure knows these risks, and has by time learned how to handle them. And these wind mills is easy compared to other operations.

YOU claimed they were basically risk-free and had been for fifty years, viz:

And when it comes to maintenance and operation, that’s peanuts. We have been doing far more complex stuff than this for 50 years.

Thanks for the reply, Valaker. Sorry, but when you make a claim about the last fifty years like that, you can’t complain when I bring things up from 37 years ago. YOU set the fifty-year time frame, not me.
And perhaps for you close to 200 deaths in maritime disasters is “peanuts” … me, I take the deaths of my fellow seamen a bit more seriously.
Regards,
w.

Valaker, good points that you made.
Pay no mind to Eschenbach. He’s a know-it-all that refuses to learn. He thinks he’s an expert on all subjects, especially the ocean. Apparently, he spent a summer in the tropics once. On or near an island, so that makes him an expert. In his own mind, of course.

Roger Sowell July 30, 2017 at 9:18 am

Valaker, good points that you made.
Pay no mind to Eschenbach. He’s a know-it-all that refuses to learn. He thinks he’s an expert on all subjects, especially the ocean. Apparently, he spent a summer in the tropics once. On or near an island, so that makes him an expert. In his own mind, of course.

I started sailing when I was 10. I built my own boat at 28 and sailed it around Hawaii. I lived for 20 years on a variety of tropical islands, including three years on a houseboat in Fiji and three years on a very remote coral atoll up near the equator, and I have also worked in the continental tropics. I singlehanded a sailboat from Seattle to San Francisco, not my brightest plan. I’ve fished commercially from California to the Bering Sea, home of the Deadliest Catch—I fished for pompano out of Santa Cruz, for anchovies out of Moss Landing, for albacore off of the southern coast, for salmon out of San Francisco, for crabs out of Eureka, for silvers in Bristol Bay, and for herring up by Nome.
I have a Coast Guard Licence for sport salmon guiding. Among other blue-water voyages I was First Mate on a 50-foot sailboat going from Hong Kong to the US. I have Openwater I, Openwater II, and Rescue Diver scuba certification, and have dived extensively in the ocean. Plus I’m a surfer, so I’ve spent endless hours looking at tropical reefs and watching the ocean.
Does that make me an “expert on the ocean”? … well, maybe so, maybe no. When I almost died at sea one time through my own stupidity, I swore that I’d never claim to be a master seaman, and I think I’ve kept to that.
But my guess is, my life around, on and under the tropical ocean makes your experience in these matters look pretty pathetic … as the old swabbies used to tell me when I was a kid, “Son, I’ve worn our more sea bags than you’ve worn out socks” …
In any case, you’ve not pointed out one single claim that I’ve made with Valaker that was wrong. All you’ve done is vainly try to throw mud at my good name … which once again has validated my rule of thumb that says:

When a man starts throwing mud … it’s a sure sign he’s out of real ammunition.

w.

Paul Penrose

Roger Sowell,
Normally I ignore trolls like you who have never demonstrated any knowledge of math or engineering. But when you slander a good man like Willis Eschenbach, I take exception. I don’t know Mr. Eschenbach personally, and I don’t always agree with what he says, but he has earned my respect. He did this by being thoughtful, courteous, and willing to share some of his insights gained from a lifetime of working and following his curiosity. When you attack someone like Willis Eschenbach, you simply show what a petty, small person you are. Grow up.

Ah, Eschenbach is angry. Good. As one should be, when he has himself “run out of ammunition.” You comments to Valaker prove that point. If you knew the first thing about Statoil, the North Sea oil fields, and the history of producing oil and gas there, you would refrain from commenting. But, you didn’t. Even after Valaker politely corrected you, you continued with your idiocy.
Your choice. It makes for amusing reading.

For Paul Penrose:
Normally I ignore trolls like you who have never demonstrated any knowledge of math or engineering.
I don’t need to demonstrate anything to you, or anybody else. My lifetime of experience around the world, consulting to the biggest names in the energy industries speaks for itself. When you can show a major oil company how they’ve been doing it wrong for decades, and show them how to make hundreds of millions more in profits, get back to me. Or when the national oil and refining company of China calls you to consult on their refineries, (after conducting a world-wide competitive search), call me. Until then, well, go add two and two and see if you get a reasonable number.
But when you slander a good man like Willis Eschenbach, I take exception.
A good man? Clearly, you don’t know his self-confessed sins right here on WUWT.
I don’t know Mr. Eschenbach personally, and I don’t always agree with what he says, but he has earned my respect.
Well, good for you. You clearly have a low standard for issuing respect. I’ve read far too much of his untrained, mostly ridiculous writings. And, his vicious replies to comments.
He did this by being thoughtful, courteous, and willing to share some of his insights gained from a lifetime of working and following his curiosity. When you attack someone like Willis Eschenbach, you simply show what a petty, small person you are. Grow up.
Clearly, you don’t know the man at all. There are few who attack with more venom.
But then, this in fact WUWT, where the willis worshipers stand in awe.
The real engineers get a good laugh at all this. I certainly do!

For Eschenbach,
Does that make me an “expert on the ocean”? … well, maybe so, maybe no. When I almost died at sea one time through my own stupidity, I swore that I’d never claim to be a master seaman, and I think I’ve kept to that. But my guess is, my life around, on and under the tropical ocean makes your experience in these matters look pretty pathetic … as the old swabbies used to tell me when I was a kid, “Son, I’ve worn our more sea bags than you’ve worn out socks” …
Reminds me of the old question, does a man have 40 years of experience, or one year 40 times? In your case, I cannot say.
My experience is sufficient for my purposes, and I strive mightily to remain within my expertise. Others apparently see no reason to do so. If this fits you, then that’s your problem.
But for the record, I have been sailing lakes, bays, gulfs, and blue oceans for more than 50 years myself. Not nearly as much as I would like, nor as often, either. I manage quite well with both power, sail, and motor-sailers. And navigate just fine with the simplest of devices. But, that’s all beside the point.
In any case, you’ve not pointed out one single claim that I’ve made with Valaker that was wrong. All you’ve done is vainly try to throw mud at my good name … which once again has validated my rule of thumb that says: yada yada yada.
One thing in your credit, in my book. You keep on plugging. Even when you are absolutely wrong, and many people point that out, you keep coming back for more correction. I read some of your more-or-less autobiographical articles earlier on this blog. It’s not your fault, I suppose, that you have no formal engineering education. You may have at this time, I don’t know. But, you admitted you had none back then. Yet, you still would write on and on about technical subjects, math analysis, and conclusions that just made the engineers laugh.
And as odd as this may seem, that’s perfectly ok. In my opinion, the world needs an outsider’s view of things. Maybe, just maybe something will occur to an uneducated, untrained person that escaped all of those with the degrees. I’ve seen it happen before. I have personally benefited more times than I can count from the experience and advice of non-engineers in the chemical plants and refineries around the world. I make it a point to spend time with those fellows, until they relax and tell me how their plant really works. That’s when I can usually find the problem that escaped all the other engineers. Not always, but enough to have earned my own reputation in that field.
So, even if we do both sail the blue seas and see the clouds and feel the winds, you with your eyes and me with all the physics and chemistry and engineering equations of fluid flow and fluid dynamics, who knows. You keep at it, and maybe find something important.

Roger Sowell July 30, 2017 at 2:27 pm

Ah, Eschenbach is angry. Good.

Angry? That’s hilarious. Roger, if I were to get angry you’d know it. All I’ve been doing with you is pointing and laughing at your ludicrous claims.
I do find it interesting that in your fantasies, me getting angry is “good” … dude, that is the mark of one sick puppy.
Regards,
w.

Henning Nielsen

Of course they have tested a smaller version of it, since 2009, in the open sea off the coast of Norway. That worked fine. Only problem with these structures is the long term maintenence costs, IMO. How soon will they need a new generator / nacelle, 25 years? Don’t know if this expense is in the budget for the power production.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7

Actually, there are reasons to believe maintenance for a floating wind turbine will be in better shape than for one permanently anchored. For light maintenance work it would be the same — get crew out to platform in a boat, offload crew + tools, then return to pick them up when work is completed. For heavier work you’d detach the entire platform and tow it back to a protected anchorage where you have a suitable crane permanently installed. Do what needs doing then tow the repaired platform back out to the anchorage. This is similar to what has already been done with lightships.
I still don’t like wind turbines, but I think there may be advantages in being able to move the entire turbine to a maintenance facility instead of trying to perform major maintenance onsite.

Alan, perhaps you are correct that they’ll unmoor the ship and tow it ashore to do maintenance.
However, you are making the wrong comparison of floating to moored wind turbines. The proper comparison is to a fossil-fired power plant. There, you go in at 8 AM and the job is done by noon … and at sea, the boat is just catching the outgoing tide to take you out to the place to make the dangerous jump to the turbine at which point you need to carry your tools and materials up 300 feet of vertical stairs.
And don’t even think about the comparison of forgotten items. Forgot something in the fossil fuel plant? Walk over to the mechanical stores, get the specialty tool and the part, go back and go to work. But on the offshore rig? Climb down 300 feet, make the dangerous jump to get back in the boat, go to shore, get in your car, drive to the mechanical stores, get the specialty tool and the part, get in your car, drive back to the port, get in the boat, spend an hour going offshore again, take the dangerous jump off the boat, climb the stairs up 300 feet again …
w.

Randy in Ridgecrest

One of the experiences of my life was leaping (yes, leaping) from a support boat to the “dock” of the FLIP, already in vertical position. It was sea state 2-3, not a big deal normally but trying to transfer from a 30′ boat to a basically immovable object like the FLIP wasn’t easy, since the boat was surging 4 – 6 feet and crashing against the FLIP. Now, I consider myself a man of action, but I know danger when I see it. I had to submerge my fear and when the boat captain said leap, I leaped. So did the other 3 riders and we all made it.
I spent a few fun but squalid days days on it and gladly left in far more gentle conditions. I regret I didn’t earn my FLIP diploma by being on it when it transitioned from horizontal to vertical to horizontal, but I couldn’t justify being on it for a month.

Tim Crome

Statoil have already tested the concept at full scale with Hywind 1. This cost about £45M for a single 2.3MW turbine off the coast of Norway. It has demonstrated that the concept works very well as the turbines can be placed in very exposed areas. Hywind 1 is the best performing wind turbine installed with production close to 50% of the full capacity. The Hywind Park project is to demonstrate that the concept works with larger turbines and smaller spare (the towers that float and support the turbines) in order to bring the costs down. It is still totally dependent on subsidies and back-up.

Bjorn

Hi,
It’s been tested in small scale off the coast of Norway for some years now i a pretty rough area.
Believe me: Statoil build things to last in rough conditions, using all their excellent offshore and subsea experience on this.
https://youtu.be/GAyPpQ4gnjg

Bjorn July 29, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Hi,
It’s been tested in small scale off the coast of Norway for some years now i a pretty rough area.
Believe me: Statoil build things to last in rough conditions, using all their excellent offshore and subsea experience on this.

Here’s a tip for you, Bjorn. Whenever someone starts a sentence with “Believe me” … I don’t. If you have to add that, far too often it means you don’t believe it yourself.
Here’s an example of why:

Sleipner A is a combined accommodations, production and processing offshore platform at the Sleipner East gas field in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. It is a Condeep-type oil platform, built in Norway by the company Norwegian Contractors for Statoil.
It is known for its catastrophic failure on 23 August 1991, due to a design flaw, that resulted from an error caused by unconservative concrete codes[1] and inaccurate Finite element analysis modelling of the tricell, which formed part of the ballasting/flotation system.[2]

So obviously, in this case, Statoil did NOT “build things to last”
Yes, I know that people do their best to engineer things for ocean conditions, and Statoil is among them.
But I also know the old Breton sailor’s prayer:

Dear God, be good to me;
The sea is so wide,
And my wind turbine is so small.

Well, actually they said “boat” instead of “wind turbine”, but still …
Best to you,
w.

Valaker

Mr. Eschenbach, where has I stated that 299 fatalities is “peanuts?” Your dishonesty is out of order.
What’s peanuts is the complexity of wind farm operations, compared to other operations that we have been doing the last 50 years.
And Your “sailor” credentials and concern for “fellow seamen” don’t impress me, it’s called leisure. And for Your information, You are now discussing with a real seaman, You know that type of seamen that is at the helm of Panamax size ships, not 50 foot yachts.

With luck a good sized North Sea Stormwill put psaid to this abberation.

My gut tells me that these monsters are a bad idea.
They just seem awkward. I’ll be interested to see a progress report in a year or so.
I’ve just got a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad feeling about them.

Hack them to pieces! The pieces will disappear in the sea. No more evidence of mass slaughter. Giant blades better than machete in hacking birds. Let’s welcome the floating butcher! (applause)
http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/04/07/article-0-1923299A000005DC-754_634x377.jpg

..and after a blade came loose and sheared off leaving the whole assembly canted over at a 60 degree angle, engineers sent to repair the turbine discovered another problem “it’s all the sharks around the thing! ” explains Noddy McTwit, chief engineer overseeing repairs. “We don’t know why, but the congregate in great numbers around the turbine, it’s strange as other floating structures don’t have this issue”

I still have to say I do not understand the need for vast, towering fans when a squirrel-cage design lying on a broad barge close to the surface seems a lot more controllable and less likely to kill anything going near it. Heck you could even have a regulatory controller to partially sink such a thing in high winds to use the water it’s self as a governor – allowing it to continue producing in high winds, these also work better in low winds as well. Maintenance on swapping out 20 foot high blades would be a lot cheaper and easier too.

John in Oz

Sharks like sliced seabirds (except for feather getting stuck in their teeth)

Leo Smith

I still have to say I do not understand the need for vast, towering fans

Boundary Layer.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetary_boundary_layer

SocietalNorm

“Sharks like sliced seabirds.”
Actually, there’s a good chance that’s the reason. Food.
Could also be something like smaller fish feeding around there, but I don’t know why that wouldn’t happen on other structures.
Also, “Noddy McTwit?”

mairon62

Have they found a solution to the “unreliable” supply issue?

nc

So is that 20,000 homes 24/7/365?

ralfellis

…….. 24/7/52.

An objective and honest comparison of costs between wind (of any kind) and nuclear, is impossible.
Wind is awash with subsidies, some explicit, many more hidden. Nuclear is awash with the opposite of subsidies, or with anti-subsidies and crippling financial punishments; some explicit, many more hidden.
In the charming English country pastime of “badger-baiting”, a wild-caught badger (or previously, a bear) is put in a pit with one or more dogs, where they fight to the death. To ensure victory of the dogs, the badger has its canine teeth and claws pulled out before the fight.
This is the best metaphor I can think of for cost comparisons painting nuclear as super-expensive; both in terms of the fairness and objectivity of the comparison, and in terms of the kind of human beings engaging in them for the profit of themselves or their cause.

Germonio

The latest nuclear station in the UK is awash with subsidies. Not least the fact that the UK government has
promised to pay over twice the current price for its electricity for the next 25 years. Even unsubsidised wind power is cheaper than what the UK government has promised to pay.

Ian W

How very useful for those wanting to compare costs with wind. Think about it.

Leo Smith

This is a handy comparison.
UK CfD prices.
By applying the same subsidy mechanism to all the discrepancies became apparent.
http://www.templar.co.uk/itzman/RenewablePoliciesAndCosts.html
EDF are prepared to build the nuke at £95 a MWh.
Onshore wind is more.
Offshore wind is around £150MWh.
Don’t even think about solar.

Griff

note Germany just accepted tender for its first subsidy free offshore wind farm…
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-13/germany-gets-bids-for-first-subsidy-free-offshore-wind-farms
This study by engineering firm Arup shows offshore wind is now competitive with (natural) gas in the UK
https://www.energymanagertoday.com/cost-onshore-wind-energy-development-now-competitive-gas-uk-0171193/

John from the EU

It depends on who is writing the article….

Cyrus P. "Cy" Stell, PE, CEM, CBCP

“The tower, including the blades, stretches to 175m (575ft), dwarfing Big Ben
Each tower weighs 11,500 tonnes
The box behind the blades – the nacelle – could hold two double-decker buses
Each blade is 75m – almost the wing span of an Airbus
The turbines can operate in water up to a kilometre deep
The blades on the towers have been a particular focus for innovation.
Statoil says the blades harness breakthrough software – which holds the tower upright by twisting the blades to dampen motions from wind, waves and currents.”
What could go wrong?
And now, the things so sure to go wrong the article dare not even speak their name…
“…a high-power, waterproof, flexible, transmission cable that will withstand salt water for years…”
“…a) maintenance costs will be well above estimates, b) blades will tend to shear off, and c) overall lifetime will be less than expected….
And don’t even think about what might be involved in say replacing the gearbox or the generator rotor …”
“…How’s it deal with a eighty foot wave?…”
A prime example of weapons-grade stupidity (stolen from a comment in a different thread).

Steve

Wow! Is that you Nostradamus? You already know these things are going to happen. If only they could have contacted you first, you could have told them all of this because I’m sure they wouldn’t have thought of these.

Griff

Cyrus, there are multiple offshore wind farms in the North Sea and Baltic and multiple HVDC interconnectors, some of which have been in use for up to 25 years, with no problems (except the odd ship’s anchor).
The world’s first offshore windfarm was decommissioned this year after operating, successfully, without excessive maintenance, for 25 years.
This is not new technology – thousands of offshore turbines in hundreds of wind farms with miles of cable have been operating for decades….

John from the EU

Why should a perfectly good operating windfarm be decommisioned? Aren’t they supposed to be sustainable?
A normal gas power station runs at leats 50 years,,

That’s taller than the Washington Monument. Hate to be in it’s path when it breaks loose. Just have a bad (common sense) feeling about this…

Chris Hanley

Goodness, what will they think of next?

Louis

“A generous subsidy deal from the Scottish government made the project viable.
Technically, everything is possible. It’s just the price tag that comes with it.”
So Statoil isn’t necessarily building these floating bird choppers because they think they’re viable. But why not do some virtue signalling and get the free publicity that comes with it if you can use the Scottish government’s money?

The Scottish Government is made up of raving loonies of a socialist/green persuasion. They love to spend (waste) other people’s money.

Exactly. The offshore engineering is feasible and Statoil are very good at it. The question is – is it even a sensible thing to do in the first place. The Norwegians certainly seem to think so and are ploughing billions into the same technology off their own shores – and that’s in a country which has no shortage of hydro.

Tim Crome

Norwegian subsidies are not high enough to justify similar projects here in Norway, hence the move to the UK. There the British pensioners and others in energy poverty can pay the price required to finance the subsidies such that any profits end up in Norwegian state owned companies!

Patrick MJD

The Scottish gonv’t plans to provide 100% renewables to it’s citizens, and sell the excess. Looks like they will be paying for this boondoggle for decades. Funny that StatOIL is building these, with substantial subsidy, from govn’t. Well, whodathunk that?

Henning Nielsen

Nothing special that an oil company also has renwable energy projects, Royal Dutch Shell invests a lot in wind power.

Patrick MJD

I didn’t say it was special, I said it was funny. Oil companies spending other people’s money in THEIR countries is special tho. Was any of that development/construction conducted in Scotland? No way! Statoil seeking a source of income not derived from oil, but taxpayers, in another country. It means the OIL company does not have to explore, dig, drill or extract ANYTHING, but other people’s money.

Griff

They may be onto something Patrick:
https://cleantechnica.com/2017/07/24/record-june-wind-yields-record-six-months-scotland-wind-energy/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-40149604
and their tidal flow turbines aren’t even getting to full capacity yet…
Plus a new HVDC line to allow export of more power opens this year (google Western link)

Curious George

Your source is cleantechnica.com. They tend to rate very high a company which goes bankrupt in two months.

Brian R

You guys are crazy. This thing will just bob up and down with the .25 -.50 meter waves the north sea is known for. There is no chance the wind we’ll cause the blades to strike the tower or rouge waves will cause the tower to over turn. The north sea is known to be as calm as a bath tub.
/sarc

Henning Nielsen

Which is why this concept has been tested IN the North Sea for years.

Presumably the rouge waves are because of all the minced birds?
/pedantry

richardscourtney

charles the moderator:
The large offshore bird swatter is reaching the limit imposed by the ‘law of diminishing returns’ because as the rotor diameter increases the time the rotor can operate reduces. I explain this as follows.
Wind powered subsidy farms only operate when the wind is strong enough but not too strong. The upper wind speed results from two effects; viz.
1. The tip speed of a bird swatter’s blades must not reach sonic speed.
and
2. The power in wind is proportional to the cube of the wind speed.
A bird swatter’s blade(s) is(are) destroyed if its(their) tips reach sonic speed. And the speed of sound at sea level is typically 340.3 m/s (ref. http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/elevation-speed-sound-air-d_1534.html ).
You report that the blade length (i.e. rotor radius) of the floating bird swatter is 75 m. Therefore, the circumference traveled by a blade tip for each rotation is (2*pi*radius) i.e. 471.24 m.
So, the rotor would self destruct if it reached a speed of (471.24/340.3) = 1.4 rotations/s.
But wind is rarely constant; it has gusts. And the power of the wind varies as the cube of the wind speed. Therefore, the blades must be feathered to keep the blade rotation speed well below its upper limit (i.e. 1.4 rotations/s in this case).
As the rotor diameter increases the time the rotor can operate reduces.
Richard

Steve Fraser

Richard: your numerator and denominator are switched.

Richard S Courtney

Stevw Feaser:
Yes, my bad. Thankyou for pointing it out. Correcting my error makes my point worse stronger..
Richard

How long will it take to produce as much energy as was consumed in building the thing?
About that 11,500 ton “per tower” weight…. Does that include the below-waterline mass?
And how does 11,500 ton compare to other facilities? Thunderhorse is one of the larget offshore floating drilling and production platform in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s fact sheet says it displaces 130,000 tons, has a 25 year design life. But, Thunderhorse produces 250,000 barrels of oil PER DAY!! At 1.7 MWhr/bbl, that is 425,000 MWhr/day or an average of 17,000 MW of near continuous power. Not 17 MW — 17,000 MW.
BTW.. what IS the nameplate power capacity of each tower? I didn’t see it. 20 MW is probably generous.
http://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp-country/en_us/PDF/Thunder_Horse_Fact_Sheet_6_14_2013.pdf

Griff

Windfarms, on or offshore, produce far more energy than their lifetime cost (build, transport, install, deconstruct)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/feb/29/turbines-energy

Cyrus P. "Cy" Stell, PE, CEM, CBCP

In your “…lifetime cost (build, transport, install, deconstruct)…” I don’t see the REQUIRED backup, neither capital construction cost nor operating cost to keep it spinning so it’s ready, for when the wind don’t blow. Try again.

A rough calculation of land-based ‘bird swatters’ showed cost (cost is a good proxy for total energy) break-even in about 20 years.
5 mW wind turbine, avg output 1/3 nameplate, 20 yr life, electricity @ wholesale 3 cents per kwh produces $8.8E6.
Installed cost @ $1.7E6/mW = $8.5E6. Add the cost of standby CCGT for low wind periods. Add the cost of land lease, maintenance, administration.

I find it hard to believe, but maybe offshore wind energy return isn’t as bad as I thought.
“A Comparative Analysis of Energy Costs of Photovoltaic, Solar Thermal, and Wind Electricity Generation Technologies” by Michael Dale in Appl. Sci. 2013, 3, 325-337; doi:10.3390/app3020325 file: applsci-03-00325.pdf.
In this paper, he looks at the capital, operating and full life energy cost and return for Wind, Solar PV, and CSP (concentrated solar power). In comparison with the others, wind is far better than the others.

4.1. Capital Energy Costs
Capital costs include the energy requirements to extract and process all raw materials, manufacture and install the capital equipment including any site preparation and grid interconnection. Energetic inputs associated with operating and maintenance (O&M) and disposal are not included. Units of measurement for capital costs are kWhe per unit of nameplate capacity, Wp.

By this ratio: (kWhe/Wp), the P25-P75 estimates are: (by eyeball from the graph.)
Onshore Wind 0.25 – 0.75
Offshore Wind 0.5 – 1.5
PV All is 2.5 – 5.0.
CSP All is 1.5 – 2.5
A ratio of 1.0 means 1000 Whr energy went in to make 1 W nameplate.
First, let’s account for efficiency. Onshore 20%, Offshore 30%
Offshore of 1 is 3300 Whr per average 1 W produced. that means energy payback in 3300 hr. less than 1/2 a year.
It takes a lot of energy to mine and process 11,000 tons of cement and steel. assume it is a 20 MW nameplate (I’m still guessing — I haven’t seen the nameplate for this tower). Can you build that tower for 20,000 MWhr, or 0.5 MWh per ton? It doesn’t pass my smell test.
Maybe where I’m going wrong is neglecting that much of that 11,000 ton displacement is cheap iron-ore/slag ballast. But there still has to be a lot of energy-expensive steel in that ship.

A bit of research shows that the author is badly misrepresenting things. This is NOT the first floating wind farm. The Japanese started work in this area way back in 2011 with a floating wind farm off of Fukushima.
And back in 2015 they did this:

FUKUSHIMA, Japan — Engineers in Japan have installed the world’s largest floating wind turbine, a towering 344-foot structure that is billed as being able to withstand 65-foot waves and even tsunamis. The 7 megawatt turbine was fastened to the seabed last week by four 20-ton anchors about 12 miles off the Fukushima coast.

What is it about renewable energy that promoters always have to make fake claims about their supposed virtues?
w.
PS—I just noticed that the head post was by Roger Harrabin … so none of the misrepresentations are any surprise. Exaggeration, concealment, alarm, and puff pieces about renewables are his stock in trade. Of course … he’s with the BBC …

Roger Knights

“This is NOT the first floating wind farm.”
But the Japanese apparently (per the clip) installed only a single turbine, not a farm of them, so that’s Harrabin’s “out.”

ralfellis

[withstand tsunamis].
Err, another misleading claim. Even a rowing boat can withstand a tsunami, as the wave height of a large tsunami is only a foot or two, when in deep water.
R

Valaker

You are wrong, se my post uptread, Statoil had it’s first floating mill back in 2009.

Henning Nielsen

“The world’s first operational deep-water floating large-capacity wind turbine is the Hywind, in the North Sea off Norway.[11][16] The Hywind was towed out to sea in early June 2009.[17] The 2.3-megawatt turbine was constructed by Siemens Wind Power and mounted on a floating tower with a 100-metre deep draft. The float tower was constructed by Technip. Statoil says that floating wind turbines are still immature and commercialization is distant.[18][19]”
Clearly, since then Statoil has found this technology viable, albeit with large subsidies.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floating_wind_turbine

Jafo

interesting concept…provide backup power to the nuclear power station when you have a tsunami that wipes out your diesel generators and thereby not losing cooling water for the reactors and spent fuel…might come in handy sometime…

Interesting analysis of various kinds of floating wind turbines here
w.

Cyrus P. "Cy" Stell, PE, CEM, CBCP

In just skimming, I came across the words “…ideal…when backed by federal and local…incentives…” Ain’t that always the case. I don’t see any mention of the REQUIRED backup (usually fossil fuel fired) that must be built and kept spinning for when the wind don’t blow, or blows too fast (as South Australia found out). The report’s shining example where “…the wind resource available…is…abundant…” is Massachusetts, a location that has already been placed virtually off-limits by NIMBYism. So I’m still not real optimistic to see wind power take off any time soon. This article, and the report you linked to (Willis, I generally like the way you think, but is this link only to the headline, you haven’t read the report all the way through?), both appear to be nothing more than virtue-signalling press releases of projects that wouldn’t exist without OPM.

nice article

Robert from oz

I wonder how that bird swatter in Japan is going ?
I seen this story last week and can’t wait for the storm season .

Robert from oz

OT but the other Govt funded green leaning TV station in OZ , SBS is having special on California’s water problems , you know the drought they’re in at the moment that nearly collapsed a dam and caused all those dry floods a few months ago .
I’ve seen the shorts for this propaganda drivel and my how dry and empty everything is .

John Dowser

“breakthrough software – which holds the tower upright by twisting the blades”
So in other words, any software error, bug or hack can take the tower(s) down in no time? That doesn’t sound very sustainable to me. Just the presence of vulnerable computer hardware at the core to keep the whole park upright sounds daft on larger scales.

Ed Zuiderwijk

Some calculate how much energy the construction itself costs? And how long it takes to recover that energy from its operation?

r. harris

The massive & outrageous amount of stupidity that went into this fraudulent scam is breath taking.

dearieme

I’m still chortling at the idea that Harrabin is capable of being an analyst.

MrGrimNasty

It’s a spelling mistake, there should be a ‘c’ after the ‘l’.

Leo Smith

Took me a long time to work that one out…..

Cyrus P. "Cy" Stell, PE, CEM, CBCP

Might need a “-” also.

A 575ft windmill, with three rotating blades like in an old-fashioned aeroplane, attached to over 15+ miles of copper cable, produces electricity off-shore? Let’s hope the software preventing it from toppling is based on something else than the climate models.

While the turbines are currently very expensive to make, Statoil believes that in the future it will be able to dramatically reduce costs in the same way that manufacturers already have for conventional offshore turbines.
“I think eventually we will see floating wind farms compete without subsidy – but to do that we need to get building at scale,” said Mr Delp.

Statoil? I’ve been waiting for the check from the Big Oil over a decade in vain – only to discover their right hand in my wallet at the till and the left hand in the shared cookie jar.

mwhite

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-40686984
And David Shukman has been in Greenland to warn us about sea level rise.comment image

mwhite
jim heath

I’ve seen this episode on the Simpsons: MONORAIL, MONORAIL.

Leo Smith

Statoil believes that in the future it will be able to dramatically reduce costs in the same way that manufacturers already have for conventional offshore turbines.

Except actually, they haven’t.
Never mind. The great advantage of floating windmills, is that they can sink.

bernie1815

Leo, You are bad to the bone…

A C Osborn

Plated Energy Rating for supplying 20,000 homes, (using the MSM Scientific values), but in practice what, 5,000-10,000 homes of average power, but supplied interminttently?

Cyrus P. "Cy" Stell, PE, CEM, CBCP

Where did that article go, I think it was on WUWT in the last few weeks, talking about actual utility of any production plant? Meaning, when this plant is built, how much existing production can be retired and/or planned production that won’t have to be built. The number that stuck in my head, for a wind energy plant, the actual utility is only 3.5% of its nameplate rating. That’s all. So for the sake of argument, let’s assume this tower does have a nameplate rating of 20 MW, as indicated in other comments. Scotland can now (assuming this tower can get connected and commissioned and actually go on-line and produce energy) retire a coal or natural gas fired plant of 0.7 MW. Tell me again how Scotland will get to 100% renewable energy production?

michael hart

The operation to begin shifting the first of the 11,500 tonne giants happened dramatically in the half-light of a Norwegian summer night.

If a drama happens in Norwegian twilight, but there is no audience to see it, is it really a drama? Or just marketing?

Bill Illis

At a cost of $260 million US, they could have built a 300 MW natural gas plant instead (with 98% reliability versus wind at 20%)
The tugboat in the article picture might be giving the wrong impression. These floating turbines are not much different than the standard ones and they are certainly not sitting on a ship platform. There is a tug platform tugging it out to sea but it is not a permament part of the turbine.
Pics of floating turbines versus the standard ones. They are just anchored differently. Floating first.comment image
Standard.comment image

Offshore wind can manage >40% capacity factor. So, it’s not as totally stupid as it would be at 20-30%… 😉

Norman Milliard

Germany is third in the world in wind farms, their capacity factor is about 17% for land based wind and for sea based wind is about 20% averaged for 2009-2015 (varying from 14% to 35% during that period). Both wind and solar have an intermittent nature that requires continual traditional backup.

Griff

Norman, wind and solar output is now reliable predictable in advance, so back up is now started stopped as the solar/wind output rises and falls as predicted.
Grid scale batteries replace spinning reserve and frequency response.
The ‘back up’ is not continual.

The decision triggers investments of around NOK 2 billion, realizing a 60-70 percent cost reduction per MW from the Hywind demo project in Norway.
Statoil will install a 30 MW wind turbine farm on floating structures at Buchan Deep…

https://www.statoil.com/en/news/hywindscotland.html
2 billion NOK = $253 million USD. $8.4 million/MW… about 10 times the cost of a natural gas power plant. About the same cost as a nuclear power plant, which would deliver twice as much electricity per MW.

Throw in the expected life time of the nuclear power plant as twice that of the wind turbine and the cost doubles