In more than a decade now, the amount of energy produced by offshore wind farms grows by 30% each year. It is expected to grow continuously due to the growing energy needs of populations across the world. Wind energy is sustainable, enabling more countries to meet their people’s high energy demands while still protecting the environment. Despite the many advantages of wind energy, it accounts for less than 1% of the entire world’s energy supply.
Many prime shallow water locations to install wind farms are being developed, but offshore wind farms’ full potential remains untapped. That is because a higher percentage of strong winds blow in water deeper than 60meters. To take advantage of these strong winds, wind turbine technicians have to install the turbines on the seafloor, which is complicated and expensive to construct. But then comes the technology of constructing floating foundations for floating offshore wind farms.
Bars of existing offshore wind turbines are attached to the seabed via a fixed foundation, in most cases a large steel tubular pile that goes to the turbine mast above the seabed. The fixed bottom turbines are limited to water depths of 50-60meters. However, the latest technology has shown that it is possible to construct floating wind turbines. A floating six-megawatt turbine is powerful enough to generate energy for more than 4,000households.
The main drawback with floating wind turbines is that their construction is still expensive even though they are technically feasible. It involves many processes such as the site’s survey, installing, and commissioning the farm, which requires funds.
We have learned a lot from the installation and maintenance of offshore wind farm engineering, which is cheaper than installing floating foundations. The only thing offshore wind farms need is powerful turbines and powerful tools and hammers to install the large-sized monopiles. But, installing offshore wind farms and floating foundations needs to become more cost-effective to match energy production from other energy sources such as water power plants. To continuously reduce the costs of constructing wind farms to harness wind energy, there is a need to refine the existing methods and adopt new efficient technologies.
It will more likely take new efficient technologies to make the construction of floating wind farms more cost-effective. One such tech solution is using robots and other autonomous tech tools to manage offshore wind engineering activities. That includes activities such as investigating the sea bead to installation and operating of floating wind turbines. That may give the technicians more control over these complex systems and their constructions.
Again, with the growing demand and use of wind energy, that means in the next years, there will be more offshore wind turbines and floating foundations to harness wind power. Routine inspections by people for the vast wind farms being built today and in the future would be impractical. Adopting smart sensors built into different parts of floating wind farms can inspect how these systems are fairing routinely.
Technicians can also take advantage of machine learning to use weather data to control the position of wind turbines to maximize energy production and reduce damage in the case of high winds or storms.
Even as governments strive to develop more technological efficiencies to tackle climate change, offshore wind engineering should be their first point of focus since floating wind farms are the next big thing in adopting sustainable energy.