The market for wind energy is growing across the world, not least now that we have achieved grid parity. Offshore wind is an enormous growth market for Sif too. We are continuing to pursue our work both nationally and internationally. And we are always looking towards the future. Specifically we see a scenario where floating wind farms represent the latest development.

Rapid development of floating wind turbines

New markets mean new challenges. Here in Europe, we build wind turbines in relatively shallow depths (up to 50 metres). Yet, places like the west coast of the USA and the shores of Japan are increasingly seeing turbines built in deeper water. Monopiles and jackets cannot be used to form the foundations for wind turbines in this case. So, a very different solution has been developed: floating platforms.

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Benefits of floating wind turbines

As an offshore foundations specialist, we see this as a positive development. And not only because more wind turbines and offshore wind farms mean more sustainable energy. Floating platforms are relatively straightforward to build, easy to transport, and simple to install.

The technology behind them is still in its infancy, explains Michiel Zaaijer, lecturer in wind energy at Delft University of Technology in an article in the Dutch newspaper Trouw. “We now have enough expertise to construct floating wind turbines with any major risks. But we still lack understanding of exactly how the bobbing mills will respond to the forces of the wind and sea. So, to prevent the blades from chipping or other such risks, we use a relatively large amount of materials to make the construction sturdy, which costs a lot of money.”

Sif and floating wind turbines

Sif is keeping a keen eye on developments here. Together with our partners, we are looking at whether floating wind turbines can be viable for the Dutch market. Of course, we will also be examining how we can deploy floating platforms in the international market over the next five years.

We will be conducting our own research into floating wind turbine and also relying on research undertaken by our specialists.