May 6, 2011

The DeepCwind Consortium led by the University of Maine has been working with the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) to test their three different floating wind turbine concepts. To obtain the data needed MARIN and the DeepCwind Consortium developed a new high quality wind generation machine. It was the first time in the world that such extensive scale model tests have been conducted in this field.

Floating wind turbines are considered to be the next step in development of offshore wind energy. Floating wind turbines can collect higher levels of wind energy because of the increased wind in the deep ocean. Eighty two percent of Maine’s coastline has the highest degree of offshore wind, level 5, making the resource unlimited. Selecting the most economical platform with minimized motions is a technical challenge.

A spar buoy, a tension leg platform and a semi-submersible floating turbine models were tested at MARIN. The scaled-down model tests are an early part of Phase 1 of the Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Plan, which goal is to have a commercial floating wind farm in the Gulf of Maine by 2030 generating 5,000 megawatts of energy.

“A key point in these tests is that wind and waves are present simultaneously, allowing the study of the complex motions and loads of the rotating wind turbine on a moving platform in both wind and waves. Therefore these tests serve as high quality benchmark data to validate simulation methods for the coupling between aerodynamic and hydrodynamic behavior,” said Erik-Jan de Ridder a Project Manager at MARIN.