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Weatherwatch: floating wind farms – the power source of the future

Offshore wind farm potential is enormous. They are no longer limited to shallow water but can operate from anchored rafts – and the size and output of the turbines keeps increasing.

Less than a decade ago turbines of three megawatts (MW) were the new giants – now the industry is installing 10mMW machines, and designs for 15 to 20MW are ready. The newest turbines will be 150 metres high with a rotor diameter of 240 metres – that is the length of more than two football pitches.

But it is the development of the floating platform that provides a potential new power source for any country in the world with a coastline. With the wind offshore blowing more strongly and consistently, particularly at the height of the new turbines, the electricity produced will be competitive in price to fossil fuels and well below nuclear. Once mainly a European development there are now bigger markets in Asia and soon the United States.

Theoretically if enough of these turbines were built they could produce all the planet’s electricity needs. That will not happen but it is cheering that this is the world’s fastest growing industry. Despite Covid, massive investments continue in both the well-established technology of shallow sea wind farms and the new wonder of the age, the floating wind farm.

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