Boosting Green Energy Production through Floating Wind Turbines

The residential wind turbines are popular among homeowners due to their effectiveness in generating 100% clean, green and renewable energy by harnessing the kinetic power of the wind. But the advancement in wind energy technologies has now made it possible to generate clean energy by mounting the turbines on offshore floating structures. As the bottom-mounted towers cannot produce energy in water depths, the floating wind turbines can now be used to generate electricity at sea.

The people who complain that the wind farms negatively affect the visual appeal of their surroundings can meet their energy needs without installing wind power generator for home. Also, the turbines will be effective in converting more wind power into electricity, as the wind is stronger and more consistent over the sea. At the same time, these floating turbines will also be effective in providing better accommodation for shipping and fishing needs.

But many companies were skeptical about the efficiency of floating wind turbines, due to the intermitted and inconsistent nature of wind. The researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently developed a new approach to eliminate the problems associated with wind energy production. They have developed an innovative system that will easily store the electricity generated by floating wind farms. Further, the electricity can be used to meet the current as well as future energy needs of the region.

To quote from a report posted on MITnews:

The key to this concept is the placement of huge concrete spheres on the seafloor under the wind turbines. These structures, weighing thousands of tons apiece, could serve both as anchors to moor the floating turbines and as a means of storing the energy they produce.

Whenever the wind turbines produce more power than is needed, that power would be diverted to drive a pump attached to the underwater structure, pumping seawater from a 30-meter-diameter hollow sphere. (For comparison, the tank’s diameter is about that of MIT’s Great Dome, or of the dome atop the U.S. Capitol.) Later, when power is needed, water would be allowed to flow back into the sphere through a turbine attached to a generator, and the resulting electricity sent back to shore.

One such 25-meter sphere in 400-meter-deep water could store up to 6 megawatt-hours of power, the MIT researchers have calculated; that means that 1,000 such spheres could supply as much power as a nuclear plant for several hours — enough to make them a reliable source of power. The 1,000 wind turbines that the spheres could anchor could, on average, replace a conventional on-shore coal or nuclear plant. What’s more, unlike nuclear or coal-fired plants, which take hours to ramp up, this energy source could be made available within minutes, and then taken offline just as quickly.

The system would be grid-connected, so the spheres could also be used to store energy from other sources, including solar arrays on shore, or from base-load power plants, which operate most efficiently at steady levels. This could potentially reduce reliance on peak-power plants, which typically operate less efficiently.

Despite looking for options to reduce their dependence on electricity and fossil energy, many homeowners hesitate to invest in residential wind turbines. The innovative system developed by MIT researchers will enable many people to use wind energy to meet their current and future power needs without buying and installing portable wind power generator for home.