Last week, the US and UK announced plans to develop massive floating offshore wind turbines that can be deployed in deep waters further out at sea.
Unlike turbines resting on towers offshore, floating turbines are able to be located in waters several hundred meters deep, increasing the areas of sea and ocean that can be harvested for wind while gaining greater access to faster winds. It would also remove the turbines from the sight of local communities that are not completely enthused about having to look at a wind farm on their scenic coast.
Energy ministers from the world's 23 largest economies met in London at the Clean Energy Ministerial last week, co-chaired by US and UK Energy Secretaries Steven Chu and Edward Davey. Together, they announced that the US and UK would be working together to capitalize on this endeavor.
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The UK's Energy Technology Institute is going to invest $41 million in the project. Selected participants can submit concepts of a floating wind turbine between 5 and 7 megawatts capacity, and the winner will be expected to produce a working prototype by 2016. The US Department of Energy has put forth a $180 million funding opportunity for four offshore wind demonstration projects.
In light of the nuclear reactor meltdown in Fukushima last year, Japan is also getting more involved with offshore wind power. The Japanese government's Fukushima Recovery Floating Wind Farm Pilot Project will initially consist of a 2 megawatt turbine, joined by two 7 megawatt turbines by 2016. By 2020, the Marubeni Corporation plans to add 1 gigawatt of floating wind installations onto that, which would make the country a leader in offshore wind power.