Global renewable energy production currently stands at a mere 11%, far from the 60% target needed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Meeting this ambitious goal requires not only international cooperation but also groundbreaking innovations to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy. Fortunately, Dutch company Touchwind has developed a game-changing design for a floating offshore wind turbine that could play a pivotal role in this endeavor.
This inventive turbine not only reduces production costs but also eliminates the need for costly active blade-pitch control systems. Unlike conventional turbines, which must cease operation during high winds, Touchwind’s creation can endure winds reaching speeds of up to 70 meters per second (252 km/h or 157 mph), resulting in less downtime and increased energy production.
The core of Touchwind’s pioneering turbine design revolves around a buoyant barrel float securely anchored to the seabed. Suspended beneath it is a substantial floating buoy. The single blade is fixed to the mast at a slight upward incline and remains above the water’s surface when winds are calm. As wind speeds intensify, the blade springs into action, spinning and generating lift that straightens the mast. In the face of strong winds, the blade assumes a near-horizontal orientation, constraining its rotation speed. Concurrently, the buoy ascends from the water, serving as a ballast weight that eases the strain on the seabed anchors.
What sets this design apart is its wind-direction-agnostic capability, enabling the turbine to effortlessly float and align itself optimally with the prevailing winds. Touchwind asserts that the turbine can be readily manufactured and deployed from harbors equipped to handle the substantial 200-meter (656-foot) blade required for a 12-megawatt turbine. Encouragingly, the company has already completed successful prototypes, both on land and on floating platforms, albeit on a smaller scale. Further momentum for testing and development is fueled by investment from Japanese shipping giant Mitsui O.S.K. Lines.
The potential of Touchwind’s single-blade turbine is profound. It addresses several critical challenges related to cost-effectiveness, operational uptime, and installation feasibility. By unlocking previously untapped offshore wind resources in deep-sea locations, this innovation can significantly contribute to clean energy generation, all while minimizing disturbances to local communities and the natural environment.
This groundbreaking design’s real impact and viability in the offshore wind industry will become increasingly evident as it undergoes further development and testing.