A new design of wind turbine could significantly reduce the cost of offshore power generation
Spotted: While wind power is growing rapidly, far more turbines are being installed on land than offshore. One reason for this is that current turbines cannot handle high wind speeds exceeding 25 metres per second that are often found offshore. Now, wind power specialist TouchWind has designed a turbine with a one-piece rotor that can handle wind speeds of up to 70 metres per second.
In TouchWind’s design, a single rotor pulls the mast, which allows the turbine to be lighter and more flexible – and around 50 per cent cheaper than other current wind turbine models. Because the TouchWind Mono is lighter, it does not need to be fixed in place and instead can float offshore where wind is faster and more energy can be generated.
Floating also reduces maintenance costs. Fixed mast wind turbines are difficult to maintain as they are not approachable in rough weather. In contrast, the cable connecting the Mono’s buoy to the rotor can be easily grabbed by a boat in most weather conditions. The company claims the design also has the potential to reduce ‘wake effect’ losses when turbines are arranged in arrays.
TouchWind recently signed a deal with Japanese shipping giant Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) in which Mitsui made an undisclosed equity investment to become a shareholder in the Dutch startup. TouchWind is also currently field-testing its design with a six-metre diameter rotor using funds provided by the Dutch government.
Wind power has been gaining a huge amount of ground lately. Evidence of this can be seen in the number of new innovations in this space. In the Springwise archive, these include innovative ways to use the space in between turbines and the use of rare earth-free generators.
Written By: Lisa Magloff