Roaming autonomous wind farms

80% of the global wind resources are located offshore in deep waters (60+ meters) where traditional seabed-fixed installations are not suitable.[1] These areas will be sites for establishing floating wind farms, which are forecasted to be 50% cheaper and 33% more efficient than stationary wind farms.[1,2,3] 

Contemporary offshore wind parks are stationary: They are either fixed or moored to the seabed floor. If the wind is not blowing, then they are not generating electricity. Unmoored wind farms will have the ability to adjust their location based on weather forecasts, roaming around the sea to optimize electricity production. 

Challenges with sub-sea cables and long distances can be overcome if the electricity is used to produce and store hydrogen. To complete the loop, hydrogen-powered transport vessels can swap fuel tanks and deliver surplus fuel to land. However, roaming wind farms will need to update and report their dynamic position to ensure safety to maritime traffic.

When will floating wind farms anticipate and roam to windier areas?

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[1] Hill, J. (2018), Hywind Scotland, World’s First Floating Wind Farm, Performing Better Than Expected
[2] Equinor (2020), The future of offshore wind is afloat
[3] Kinhal, V. (2020), Efficiency of Wind Energy
More information:
Failla, G., and F. Arena (2015), New perspectives in offshore wind energy
European Wind Energy Association (2020)
Negro V, López-Gutiérrez JS, Esteban MD, Matutano C. (2015) Uncertainties in the design of support structures and foundations for offshore wind turbines.
Annoni J. et al. (2018), A Framework for Autonomous Wind Farms: Wind Direction Consensus
Komusanac, I., Fraile, D., and G. Brindley (2019), Wind energy in Europe in 2018
Manz, B., (2020), Wind Turbines: Tiny Sensors Play Big Role
Anderson, S., (2013), Comparing Offshore and Onshore Wind

By Matthew J. Spaniol