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GE Researchers Unveil 12 MW Floating Wind Turbine Concept

Niskayuna, USA - Under new President Joe Biden, the US is pushing offshore wind energy with an eye on the huge potential of floating offshore wind farms. More than 100 million US dollars (USD million) are available for research projects via the US Department of Energy (DoE). This includes a project unveiled by GE Research.

Last week GE researchers unveiled details of an ongoing two-year project under the ARPA-E programme ATLANTIS (Aerodynamic Turbines Lighter and Afloat with Nautical Technologies and Integrated Servo-control). The USD 4 million project aims to develop advanced controls for a floating 12 MW GE offshore wind turbine.

GE Research develops optimised controls for mass-reduced floating 12 MW offshore turbine

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) is an energy research agency under the US Department of Energy (DoE). Its mission is to promote energy technologies with high potential and high impact, but which are still at a too early stage for private sector investment. The floating wind turbine project is one of several energy technologies that GE Research unveiled last week at the virtual ARPA-E Innovation Summit (24-27 May 2021). GE is partnering in the project with Glosten, one of the leading design and consulting firms in the marine industry and developer of the Pelastar floating wind turbine foundation.

Building a floating platform capable of supporting a structure as massive as an offshore turbine with a height of more than 850 feet (260 m) should not be underestimated, said research project leader Rogier Blom at GE Research. "Through our ATLANTIS project with ARPA-E, we will be concurrently designing the controls system with the design of the floating structure itself to advance Floating Offshore Wind Energy toward becoming a future commercially viable solution", Blom added.

Via the coupling of a 12 MW GE turbine with Glosten's platform technology, the aim is to design a light-weight floating turbine with up to 35 per cent less mass in the tower and floating platform and significantly lower power generation costs. " Collaborating closely with GE gives us another layer of detailed engineering design input beyond the standard drivers of site conditions, construction cost, schedule, and the resulting LCOE. This is the cooperation needed to bring floating wind to technical and commercial success", said Glosten Vice President Ben Ackers.

Biden administration pushes expansion of floating offshore wind power

The expansion of offshore wind energy in the USA is still in an early initialisation phase. Following the announcements by the Biden administration to expand offshore wind energy in the USA to 30,000 megawatts (MW) by 2030, this is likely to change soon. In particular, the focus is on developing offshore potential off the Pacific coast in California. Specifically, the US Department of the Interior, in coordination with the Department of Defense, has already identified an area ("Morro Bay 399 Area") that allows for the installation of 3,000 MW of offshore wind capacity on about 399 square miles off the central coastal region of California.

Since the outer continental shelf in the Pacific drops much faster into much deeper waters than in the Atlantic, floating offshore wind farms in particular are to be realised in the waters off California. To this end, the Department of Energy (DOE), through ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy), invests more than 100 million dollars in the research, development and demonstration of floating offshore wind technology.

Source: IWR Online, Jun 06 2021