Saturday, December 2, 2017

See oil companies, it CAN be done�floating offshore wind turbines from Statoil


My brother insists that the world's smartest people are found in construction. No one is more innovative when it comes to solving crazy-difficult problems where the risk of doing it wrong can be, quite literally, deadly.

Today we examine the efforts of Statoil to build a wind farm so far offshore that the turbines must float and are anchored to the bottom. Doing something like this makes perfect sense because winds are far stronger and more reliable offshore with the added benefit that turbines in these locations are in no one's back yard. In some places like Japan, the ONLY serious offshore option is floating because their oceans get deep so quickly.

Except that crazy-difficult barely describes such a project. And yet Statoil took it on and it looks like it is working. Statoil has vast experience in offshore oil extraction and it looks like they have brought a LOT of that experience to offshore wind. The designs are very conservative relying on components with serious credentials in waters like the North Sea. These turbines were built by very serious people.

Oh, and one other thing. For years, Big Oil has been ducking the possibility that if they were going to remain energy companies as the Age of Oil runs out, they were going to need expertise in renewables. And yet Statoil seems to be leading the way. This is an oil company partly owned by the Norwegian people and seems to be as corruption-free as the rest of the Nordic societies. The key to making crazy-difficult projects a success is to keep the corrupting Predators out of the way of the master problem-solvers.




And to give some idea of the incredible engineering necessary to make these large wind turbines reliable enough to power cities, the following is about what goes into making an 8 MW gearbox.

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