Floating wind turbines unlocking Europe’s untapped wind energy potential

Europe holds vast wind energy resources, with nearly 80% currently inaccessible. Floating wind turbines offer a promising solution to harness these untapped resources.

In a recent paper by Daniel van den Berg, Delphine De Tavernier, and Jan-Willem Van Wingerden, the potential of dynamic induction control techniques, such as the pulse wake mixing strategy, for floating turbines is explored. This article delves into the goals, technology, potential impact, and challenges surrounding floating wind turbines, highlighting their significance in the transition to renewable energy.

The primary goal of floating wind turbines is to provide access to Europe’s deep waters, where the majority of untapped wind energy resources lie. These turbines employ control techniques like dynamic induction control to enhance wake mixing, thereby minimizing turbine-to-turbine interaction within wind farms. By varying the thrust of the turbine over time, the wake is disturbed, leading to a time-varying induction zone. This work investigates the applicability and effectiveness of the pulse wake mixing technique in floating wind turbines compared to bottom-fixed turbines, taking into account the platform’s motion and its impact on wake mixing.

The drive for carbon neutrality and energy self-sufficiency in the European Union has intensified the demand for renewable energy. Offshore wind energy, including floating wind turbines, is a key technology in meeting these goals. While shallow waters currently host offshore wind farms, the deeper waters hold 80% of Europe’s wind energy resources. To achieve the ambitious target of 480 GW of installed wind capacity by 2030, floating wind turbines will play a crucial role in accessing these deeper waters. Clustering floating turbines into large wind farms is envisioned as the technology matures, akin to bottom-fixed wind farms.

Viable solution

Wind turbine wakes and their interaction within wind farms pose a significant challenge, leading to substantial power production reduction for individual turbines. Extensive research has focused on understanding and mitigating wake effects, but unsteady inflow conditions and operational challenges specific to floating turbines require further investigation. The study aims to determine the extent to which dynamic induction control techniques, particularly the pulse wake mixing strategy, can minimize wake losses for floating wind turbines. Leveraging the additional degrees of freedom provided by floating platforms is a key aspect under examination.

Floating wind turbines present a viable solution to tap into Europe’s vast wind energy resources in deep waters. Through control techniques like dynamic induction control and the pulse wake mixing strategy, these turbines aim to minimize wake losses and enhance power production. As the European Union strives for carbon neutrality and energy self-sufficiency, the successful development and implementation of floating wind turbines will be critical. Further research and advancements in wake mitigation techniques for floating turbines will pave the way for a sustainable and efficient offshore wind energy sector in Europe.

Image source: WES

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