General Motors is deploying its GM Ventures subsidiary to launch next-generation clean technology that supports its share of the global automotive industry, and the latest move is insane. The company has led a round of up to $ 10 million to fund a new system of floating wind turbines that looks like a giant wall of fidget spinners and acts as a giant sponge sucking energy.
Floating wind turbines are born
For those of you who are new to this topic, floating wind turbines are a relatively new addition to offshore wind energy, which in itself is a relatively new development in renewable energy.
Offshore wind farms made with conventional fixed-platform turbines that stand on monopolies are generally more expensive to build than their onshore counterparts, and the continuing shortage of naval forces makes nothing easier. However, the potential for expansion at sea helps to balance financial conditions, as does the proximity of large coastal population centers.
Wind turbines are also not shrinking. Offshore wind farms must shrink with bridges, tunnels, winding roads and other barriers between the turbine factory and the construction site. Offshore wind turbines do not need any such considerations depending on the availability of suitable port operations.
This raises the question of why bother building floating offshore wind farms. Floating technology is generally more expensive than fixed platform construction, but site selection is a major attraction. For floating turbines that only require an anchor to connect to the seabed, more sea spaces are available. They can be placed in deeper waters where monopile construction is impractical.
One platform, many floating wind turbines
As the floating wind supply chain matures, costs fall. Another cost-cutting maneuver is the joint placement of more than one turbine on a single platform, and this is where Wind Catching Systems comes into play.
“The technology is based on multi-turbine technology and achieves its efficiency by maximizing energy production per float, which leads to more efficient land use and lower LCOE,” explains WCS.
Multi-turbine is an underestimation. According to illustrations on the WCS website, a typical platform will host dozens of wind turbines. WCS calculates that its fully equipped system can provide power equivalent to five 15 megawatt wind turbines.
Since each of these 15 megawatt wind turbines would require a separate installation, you can see where the idea of co-location is a potential savings in money on construction costs.
WCS also expects to launch its design system designed for savings. According to the company, its floating wind turbine system requires no specialized vessels or cranes and is based on established technology in the offshore oil and gas industry. Once the deck is floating, the rest of the installation includes standard elevator-based construction equipment.
The design itself looks relatively delicate, but WCS has a design life of 50 years and significant maintenance cost savings.
For gilding the green lily, the co-location strategy means that a floating wind turbine farm would take up much less space than a conventional wind farm. WCS estimates that its floating wind turbines take up 80% less space than a typical wind farm.
GM Hearts floating wind turbines
Under the leadership of CEO Mary Barra, GM has already earned a reputation for supporting nationwide clean energy projects that benefit entire communities. This is a step beyond the standard approach of introducing renewable energy mainly or exclusively for the benefit of the company’s internal operations, but it is clearly appropriate for EV manufacturers who have a direct interest in strengthening drivers’ confidence in the national public EV charging network.
The investment in a new floating wind turbine represents an opportunity for GM to expand its renewable energy footprint into new territory. As an influencer in renewable energy, GM’s vote of confidence in WCS could also help attract more dollars to the area of floating offshore wind turbines.
GM Ventures’ new investment supports the WCS home in Norway and links it to the Norwegian investment firms Ferd and North Energy, as well as the construction company Havfonn.
“As GM continues to move towards a fully electric future, it is important that we manage the network’s transition to low-carbon energy sources at the same time,” said Kristen Siemen, GM’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “GM Ventures’ investment in offshore wind farms with Wind Catching Systems represents an opportunity to accelerate the time-to-market of innovative technologies and move towards a cleaner, more reliable and resilient energy future.”
What else does GM have up his sleeve?
CleanTechnica is tracking GM into an advanced energy storage area, but that seems to be just the tip of the iceberg of clean technology for GM Ventures.
In the area of clean energy and EV charging, the current portfolio includes Empower Energies for turnkey renewable energy and Powermat Technologies for wireless EV charging.
Additive production also comes through Seurat.
Returning to the field of energy storage, we find that we are interested in the new generation of fast charging technology from Soelect and the new “anode-free” battery from SES.
What else is floating in the offshore windspace in the meantime?
If floating wind turbines still have a long way to go in terms of cost competitiveness, it probably won’t be long. In another new development, the British University of Dundee pointed out a new system for anchoring floating wind turbines, which should keep the cost of the downward spiral.
Although floating wind turbines have a site-side advantage over conventional turbines, the Dundee research team points out that the current state of anchorage technology is a limitation.
“The depths at which floating turbines can be installed are limited by current anchor designs, which leave too much footprint on the seabed and limit the number that can be installed in harsh marine environments,” they explain.
The school was recently approached by Bruce Anchor Limited to improve the situation, and they seem to be preparing for something. The news about Bruce Anchor is a bit thin in detail, but last year the school described the work it does on offshore mooring for Corpower Ocean wave developers and society and Ternan Energy, which included the following observations:
“The team’s new vibro-installed anchors are being developed as an alternative to conventional anchors that are unable to provide the required tensile capacity to enable the wave energy converter to cope with the millions of waves it will face over its lifetime and to replace gravity base anchoring solutions. and large diameter with smooth piles, which are very expensive, structurally inefficient and require very large containers for handling and deployment. ”
Interesting! The Dundee team notes that this process is cheaper and less disruptive to marine life than alternative “tube pile” anchoring technologies.
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Image: Multi-turbine floating wind turbine platform courtesy of Wind Catching Systems.
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