Washington, June 30 (ANI): The scientists have invented floating ocean-based wind turbines, which could be the next big thing in the renewable energy solutions.
While offshore turbines already have been constructed, they've traditionally been situated in shallow waters, where the tower extends directly into the seabed.
This restricts the turbines to near-shore waters with depths no greater than 50 meters-and precludes their use in deeper waters, where winds generally gust at higher speeds.
An alternative is placing turbines on floating platforms said Dominique Roddier of Berkeley, California-based Marine Innovation n Technology.
By testing a 1:65 scale model in a wave tank, the researchers have shown that the three-legged floating platform, which is based on existing gas and oil offshore platform designs, is stable enough to support a 5-megawatt wind turbine, the largest turbine that currently exists.
These mammoth turbines are 70 meters tall and have rotors the size of a football field. J
ust one, Roddier said, produces enough energy "to support a small town."
The next step is building a prototype to understand the life-cycle cost of such projects and to refine the economics models, said Roddier.
The prototype, which is being built in collaboration with electricity operator Energias de Portugal, "should be in the water by the end of summer 2012," he added.
Roddier and his colleagues have published a feasibility study of one platform design-dubbed 'WindFloat'-in the latest issue of the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy. (ANI)