A Norwegian Greentech company has recently unveiled its new 1,000-foot (324m) tall, floating wind turbine array. Called "Wind Catcher", this innovation in renewable energy generation could be used to power as many as 80,000 homes.
The system has been developed by the Norwegian-based Wind Catching Systems (WCS), who declare that their new wind turbine setup could generate five times the annual energy of the world's biggest standalone wind turbines. Not only that, but if scaled, it could reduce the costs of wind energy to be competitive with traditional grid-supplied electricity.
"Wind Catcher" comprises a large metal frame with multiple small turbines mounted into it -- over 100 according to artistic renderings of the device. The entire frame sits upon a large floating platform that would be moored to the seafloor when deployed in real life using existing practices mastered by the oil and gas industry for their offshore platforms.
According to WCS, just one of its "Wind Catcher" systems would have over double (2.5 times) the swept area of the world's biggest wind turbine, the 15MW Vestas V236. Owing to its smaller turbine blades, WCS' system should also perform much better in higher wind speeds over 25 mph (11-12 m/s) too.
This also means you could get the same, or similar, "bang for your buck" with fewer "Wind Catcher" turbines than conventional ones.
At these higher wind speeds, larger, more conventional setups, tend to need to pitch their blades to avoid mechanical damage. This should mean that, according to WCS, "Wind Catcher" could provide a 500% boost in annual energy output - -enough to power 80,000 homes with a single array.
Its small turbines also offer the benefit of freeing the system from needing massive single components, meaning turbines should be easier to manufacture, install, and maintain. Not only that but once its large floating platform is deployed, most of the installation and maintenance work can be conducted in situ without the need for specialist cranes or vessels.
WCS also makes the bold claim that its system should benefit from a 50-year service life, as oppose to the 30-years, or so, of more conventional wind turbines.
"Wind Catcher" should provide more energy and reduce maintenance costs
According to WCS, its "Wind Catcher" system is ready for production and offshore deployment to deliver energy on par (cost-wide) with conventional electrical grids. This means that its Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), should match or beat the price of the power grid.
By way of example, in Norway and the United States, grid-supplied electricity has an LCOE of around $105 per megawatt-hour. "Wind Catcher", all things being equal, should be able to deliver similar figures. For reference, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, new offshore wind assets coming online in 2026 will be delivering energy with an LCOE of around $115 per megawatt-hour.
WCS has financial backing from investment companies like North Energy and Ferd and has developed the technology in conjunction with offshore wind supplier Aibel and the IFE Institute for Energy Technology.
No further information on the system has been released as yet, but it is an exciting development in renewable technology nonetheless. Quite when we'll get to see a working prototype (or test rig) is yet to be seen, but it will interesting to see when it finally arrives.