France develops floating wind turbines
France is about to transform the global offshore wind industry. The country is developing four floating wind flotillas. These turbines are an essential component of “floating wind,” an increasingly relevant form of sustainable technology used to extract energy.
How does this technology work? Wind turbines are mounted on offshore flotation devices and generate electricity from water. Their buoys and blades make it easy to cultivate hydraulic energy regardless of water depth. The concept was introduced by Professor William Heronemus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the 1970s, however it was not until 2009 that the first full-scale floating wind flotilla—the Hywind—was assembled and deployed.
In France, the four turbine units are being developed in Provence, Leucate, Gruissan, and Groix. They will be launched at various points in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Though built based on the Hywind model, each turbine will have a completely different floor plan and will take into consideration different marine conditions.
This technology is also extremely efficient, tailorable, and viable for its price. According to experts from the National Renewable Energy Lab in the U.S., turbines can rely on natural energy sources instead of man-made technologies. Because of that ability, floating wind can eventually become economically competitive with mainstream energy sources like gas.
The French government is hugely supportive of this endeavor, investing more than €300 million into turbine construction. If all goes well, by 2020, the expected year of the launch, France will be a pioneer of floating wind technology.