Energy

1,000-foot multi-rotor floating Windcatchers to power 80,000 homes each

1,000-foot multi-rotor floatin...
A single Windcatcher floating offshore grid could power 80,000 European homes at grid-parity prices
A single Windcatcher floating offshore grid could power 80,000 European homes at grid-parity prices
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A single Windcatcher floating offshore grid could power 80,000 European homes at grid-parity prices
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A single Windcatcher floating offshore grid could power 80,000 European homes at grid-parity prices
To give you a sense of scale, WCS has pictured the Windcatcher grid alongside the 1,063-ft-high Eiffel Tower, among other things
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To give you a sense of scale, WCS has pictured the Windcatcher grid alongside the 1,063-ft-high Eiffel Tower, among other things
Undersea mooring and cabling
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Undersea mooring and cabling
WCS says each one of these Windcatcher grids can replace the annual output of five massive 15-MW conventional turbines
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WCS says each one of these Windcatcher grids can replace the annual output of five massive 15-MW conventional turbines
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Norway's Wind Catching Systems (WCS) has made a spectacular debut with a colossal floating wind turbine array it says can generate five times the annual energy of the world's biggest single turbines – while reducing costs enough to be immediately competitive with grid prices.

Standing more than 1,000 ft (324 m) high, these mammoth Windcatcher grids would deploy multiple smaller turbines (no less than 117 in the render images) in a staggered formation atop a floating platform moored to the ocean floor using established practices from the oil and gas industry.

Just one of these arrays, says WCS, could offer double the swept area of the world's biggest conventional wind turbines – the 15 MW Vestas V236 – and its smaller rotors could perform much better in wind speeds over 40 to 43 km/h (25 to 27 mph), when larger turbines tend to start pitching their blades to limit production and protect themselves from damage. The overall effect, says WCS, is a 500 percent boost in annual energy output, with each array making enough power to run 80,000 European homes.

Rather than using massive single components, these Windcatchers are built with smaller pieces that are much easier to work with. Once the floating base is installed, most of the rest can be done on deck, without cranes or specialized vessels, and the grid design allows easy access for ongoing maintenance. WCS says these arrays are ready for a 50-year service life, as opposed to the 30 years of a single large turbine.

The company says it's ready to start delivering offshore wind power on debut at grid parity – meaning at a levelized cost of energy (LCOE, taking capital costs into account) matching or beating the price of grid power. In Norway and the USA, that currently averages out at about US$105 per megawatt-hour. The US Energy Information Administration currently projects the capacity-weighted LCOE of new offshore wind assets coming online in 2026 to average $115.04 per megawatt-hour, with some regions capable of getting that under US$100.

To give you a sense of scale, WCS has pictured the Windcatcher grid alongside the 1,063-ft-high Eiffel Tower, among other things
To give you a sense of scale, WCS has pictured the Windcatcher grid alongside the 1,063-ft-high Eiffel Tower, among other things

So this will still be a relatively expensive way to generate electricity, especially compared to land-based wind and solar, but it could still be a cost saver for offshore wind. And WCS says its projections are based on an initial installation size that it believes will become significantly more economical as it scales up.

The company has the backing of investment companies North Energy and Ferd, and has developed the technology in conjunction with offshore wind supplier Aibel and the IFE Institute for Energy Technology.

WCS has not yet released further details about prototypes or first installations, so while it does have the appearance of a legit technology, it seems we'll have to wait some time before it proves its claims.

Source: Wind Catching Systems

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28 comments
28 comments
ChairmanLMAO
I imagine replacing a blades or repairing the generators would be an adventure all on it's own. This is a olympic sized atrocity.
Skipjack
I will believe it, when I see it.
Deres
This system will be unable to turn to face the wind. It will thus be less efficient than the classical wind turbine if the wind direction is not fixed. Even if the turbine are able to turn, there would be a huge downwash effects from other turbines and the struts for lateral winds.
SteveMc
That does not look very stable to me but it certainly would make a highly efficient seabird slicer before it buckled and fell into the sea during the first big storm.
Bob Stuart
It is wonderful to see turbine blades of a more reasonable length. Now, I'm mostly wishing I could see some guy wires or other tension elements to make the support structure more efficient. I expect that the array will turn to face the wind, like any other ship on a mooring.
DaveWesely
Wind turbines only kill about one bird per year per turbine. Cars, cats and windows kill far more birds. Fact. Obviously this design pivots from the sea floor anchor to keep it turned into the wind. A fall from a hundred feet or a thousand feet has the same result, so the size is irrelevant to the issue of serviceability.
Kent Dogey
Concept looks encouraging but a Darius or vertical axis WECS design makes more sense.
maxmann
have they put it out to sea far enough to lessen the slaughter of birds? this is a non starter if it destroy the planet of living things at even faster rates than have been witnessed recently. One planet.. all living things have a place here.. how can they brag bout this feat without taking into account what harm is done in order to do it? comparing to oil or other polluters is fine.. but they are killing all kings of things too. it is about perspective and I do not see it here.
TechGazer
It looks like it has three fixed supports, but maybe the outer two could be floating to allow for turning into the wind. It could even have front/back floats/dampers or even a ring structure with guy wires. Will it provide reliable cheap power? Build one and ask the investors 30+ years later.
Bruce H. Anderson
A skyscraper at sea. All that steel won't disturb wind, wont rust, won't be a nesting place. It won't rotate either.