In 2010, the UK's industry economic valuation report predicted that floating wind turbines would eventually offer the most power generating potential in the wind industry.
We reported on this prediction a couple of years ago, and offered a brief history on floating turbine technology. Take a look. . .
We first told you about floating wind turbines last year, after it was reported that Siemens (NYSE: SI) had teamed up with Norwegian oil and gas player StatoilHydro (NYSE: STO) to build the first floating wind turbine for deepwater use.
The initial application for that particular turbine was to help power oil and gas rigs that sit above the North Sea's diminishing reserves. But since no seabed foundation construction is necessary with floating turbines, these things could ultimately have a significant economic advantage for offshore wind power developers.
And since floating turbines can be situated further from the shore — where the wind resource is stronger and more consistent in many cases— more undersea cable would be necessary. This would create a real benefit for companies like ABB (NYSE: ABB) and General Cable (NYSE: BGC).
Now while the concept for large-scale offshore floating wind turbines was actually introduced in the U.S. back in 1972, it looks like Europe is once again taking the lead on a potentially disruptive power technology.
The first fully deployed floating wind turbine was in Italy. A company called Blue H Technologies operated the prototype in 2007 and conducted extensive testing for about a year.
Principle Power, Inc. signed an MOU with Energias de Portugal (ELI: EDPAE) (EDPFY.PK) last year to develop a deep water offshore wind project in Portugal that would use the WindFloat technology. This is a patent pending floating foundation that was developed by Marine Innovation & Technologies, which is owned by Principle Power.
The project will take place in three phases, resulting in a 150 MW commercial floating wind farm.
That was two years ago, and little by little, floating wind turbine development has really picked up steam.
In fact, we learned just yesterday that a consortium of Japanese companies is close to finalizing a new deal to build a 12 MW floating wind farm.
The new wind farm is expected to be installed by 2016.
This new project is just one of many new renewable energy projects the Japanese government is pushing as the Land of the Rising Sun continues to back slowly away from its previous nuclear power ambitions.