DeepCwind Focuses on Stabilizing Wind Turbines in Deepwater Locations
Harnessing wind energy in deepwaters poses both promise and challenges. The wind is plentiful and the large wind turbines are out of sight from land, but stabilizing the machines so they don’t topple during storms is problematic. DeepCwind, an association of university and private researchers, is building new wind turbines designed for deepwater, and will be testing a prototype in 2012 near Monhegan Island, Maine.
Plans are in place to install a prototype in 2012, with a full-sized turbine further out in 2014. Winds are much stronger over open water than near land, so harnessing the wind energy available far offshore would be a breakthrough for clean energy.
The Advanced Structures and Composites Center (AEWC) at the University of Maine is tackling the complex task of designing and constructing a floating platform to enable large wind turbines to operate in the Gulf of Maine. Wind energy from offshore turbines, fueled by strong ocean winds, could become a clean and steady electricity source for millions on-shore.
Professor Andrew Goupee, a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, is contributing his expertise in numerical modeling to the wind energy development venture. Before wind turbines are placed offshore, they need to be configured to handle the wind and waves, so researchers are developing numerical models to assist with the process. The DeepCwind group currently has a buoy placed at the University of Maine offshore test site to record data about wave heights and wind speed.