Wind turbines, with their considerable height and sweeping blades, are perhaps the most visually striking sign that the world is moving towards a more sustainable future.
Over the past few years, the big players in the field have been developing huge new turbines, and the era of ‘super-large’ structures on land and at sea seems to be just around the corner.
These giant kits are based on well-known designs incorporating towers, nacelles and blades, but some companies are working on new ideas that would look completely different if actually built. .
Wind Catating Systems is one of them. Founded in 2017 and headquartered outside Oslo, the Norwegian capital, the company is focused on developing what it calls a “floating wind farm based on a multi-turbine design.”
The overarching idea behind the Windcatcher system is related to maximizing “power generation from concentrated areas” as it is known. The design also incorporates an elevator-based system for turbine installation and maintenance.
The illustrations of what the Windcatcher looks like are certainly striking, resembling a vast wall of water with spinning blades.
Its potential scale is substantial. CEO Ole Hegheim said the “large model” would be 300 meters (about 984 feet) high and 350 meters wide.
However, such repetition is still a long way off. The larger version of the Windcatcher will use 126 one-megawatt turbines, but Hegheim said the planned test model will have “seven to 12,” with an exact number to be announced in the coming months. said to be determined.
The plan is to scale up in stages. After the pilot, Hegheim said the company is “likely to build something intermediate, perhaps around 40 megawatts, before moving on to the larger one.”
Floating offshore wind turbines differ from fixed-bottom offshore wind turbines, which are rooted in the seabed.
One advantage of floating turbines is that they can be installed in much deeper water than fixed bottom turbines. Just like the United States has set a goal of increasing its floating wind farms.
As countries and companies around the world look to cut emissions and reach net-zero targets, companies like Wind Catching Systems are beginning to attract prominent backers.
In June 2022, the company will strategic agreement with major automakers general motors It also secured an investment from GM Ventures.
Wind Catching Systems said the agreement with GM concerns “cooperation covering technology development, project implementation, offshore wind power policy and advances in sustainable technology applications.”
Most recently, in February 2023, the company announced that it has received the following awards: Pre-project grant 9.3 million NOK (approximately $872,500) was raised from Enova, which is owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment.
Wind Catching Systems said the grant “supports the initial deployment of full-scale Windcatcher.”
“Through the pre-project, Wind Catching Systems matures and validates technology and cost estimates for a full-scale Windcatcher,” the company added.
Over the past few years, the interaction of wind turbines with the natural world has generated a tremendous amount of discussion and controversy, sometimes resulting in issues such as: Hurdles to the project.
In particular, there are concerns about the impact on birds, on the website The UK-based Royal Bird Conservation Society warned that wind farms “can harm birds through disturbance, migration, acting as barriers, habitat loss and collisions”.
He added that “impacts can come from a single development or the accumulation of multiple projects.”
In an interview with CNBC, Hegheim tried to highlight how his company’s design can reduce risk.
“We have a big structure behind the turbine [and] I hope it’s visually useful for the birds,” he said, explaining that there was also an opportunity to incorporate detection and deterrence systems into the structure.
“We hope we can make something more friendly to birds,” he said.
Designs like the Windcatcher offer a glimpse into how wind energy will develop, and various ideas have been proposed over the past few years.
These include A Vortex Bladeless system with a cylindrical mast and no blades, kite-like system tied to the ground.Elsewhere, companies such as the sea spins I am working on the development of a vertical axis floating turbine.
There are growing expectations about the potential of such proposals, but it seems that they have a long way to go to challenge the dominance of today’s onshore and offshore turbines.
“The role of new turbine models and innovation in turbine design should not be ignored,” Christoph Ziff, press manager for industry group WindEurope, told CNBC via email.
“It’s good that the wind industry continues to explore new avenues and innovative solutions,” Zipp said. “But as it stands, ‘traditional’ wind turbines – he said, three-bladed horizontal axis turbines – will continue to lead the way. ”
He added that such turbines dominate all “competitive projects” in offshore, floating and onshore wind farms. “They offer the maximum power output at the lowest price.”
Disrupting the wind power industry is a monumental task that requires significant investment, time and patience.
As with any ocean-based technology, floating offshore wind faces a number of challenges, not least of which is the extremely harsh environment in which the turbines must operate.
But Wind Catching Systems’ Hegheim was optimistic about the future. “We definitely want to go mainstream,” he said.
It remains to be seen if the company’s plans will bear fruit, but the company’s progress over the coming months and years will be noteworthy.