StatoilHydro’s Hywind

Norwegian Company StatoilHydro has announced the building of the world’s first full scale floating wind turbine, called Hywind, which will be tested over a two year period offshore Karmoy in Norway. The company intends to invest approximately 80 million dollars in the project and according to plans construction will start in the autumn of 2009.

The project combines known technologies in an innovative way. A 2.3 megawatts wind turbine will be attached to the top of a so-called Spar-Buoy (buoy resembling a vertical log), a solution familiar from production platforms and offshore loading buoys. “We have drawn on our offshore expertise from the oil and gas industry to develop wind power offshore,” says Alexandra Bech Gjorv, head of new energy in StatoilHydro.

The floating wind turbine will have rotor blades 80 meters diameter and the nacelle will tower some 65 meters above the sea surface. The floatation element will have a draft of some 100 meters below the sea surface and will be connected to the seabed using three anchor points. Thanks to its unique design, the wind turbine can be located in waters with depths ranging from 120 to 700 meters. “Taking wind turbines to sea presents new opportunities. The wind is stronger and more consistent, areas are large and the challenges we are familiar with from onshore projects are fewer,” says Bech Gjorv.

StatoilHydro is allocating in excess of 400 million NOK (about $80 million) to building and developing the pilot program, as well as research and development of the wind turbine concept. The goal of the pilot, besides testing the current design, is to reduce costs so that floating wind power can compete in the power market. The pilot project will be assembled in Amoyfjorden near Stavanger and is to be located some 10 kilometers offshore Karmoy in the county of Rogaland.

The project involves several other major companies, including Siemens, who builds the turbine itself, Technip, who will build the floatation element and have responsibility for the installation offshore, Nexans, who will lay cables to shore, and Haugaland Kraft who will be responsible for the landfall. Furthermore, Enova is supporting the project with 59 million NOK (about $11.5 million). “Floating wind power is not mature technology yet, and the road to commercialization and large scale development is long. An important aspect of the project is therefore research and development,” says Bech Gjorv.

A three-meter high model has already been tested successfully in SINTEF, Marintek’s wave simulator in Trondheim. “If we succeed, then we will have taken a major step in moving the wind power industry offshore. Floating wind turbines can make a major contribution to providing the world with clean power, but there are major technical and commercial challenges that need to be resolved. If we are to succeed, we will need to cooperate closely with the authorities. As with other technologies for renewable energy, floating wind power will be dependent on incentive schemes to be viable,” says Bech Gjorv.

TFOT has covered other similar turbines, such as Blue H’s turbine, Verdant Power and Pelamis’s Wave’s Power turbines and the tidal power turbine built in Korea by Lunar Energy and Midland Power. Other related TFOT stories include Repower 5M’s Largest Wind turbine and the Selsam SuperTurbine, which eliminate all components that do not directly contribute to power generation.

For more information on StatoilHydro’s HyWind project the company’s website.

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