Giant 10MW turbine will be tested on land before being installed in North Sea

The race to develop the world’s largest wind turbine is heating up after a coalition of Norwegian companies announced they plan to develop a giant 10MW turbine, bringing them into direct competition with US-based Clipper Windpower and its high-profile Britannia Project to build a similar scale 10MW turbine.

The Norwegian turbine is being developed as part of the Sway project, a joint-initiative between Norwegian engineering and energy firms Statoil, Lyse, Inocean and Enova.

Renewable energy firm Enova said it is to invest $23m in the project, adding that the turbine would be the world’s largest, boasting rotors that are 145 metres in diameter. It said the technology would be tested on land for two years before being installed in the North Sea.

The race is now on for the turbine to be deployed before Clipper Windpower’s similar scale 10MW wind turbine, which is due to be erected in the UK by the end of 2011. The Clipper turbine is expected to be 175 metres tall, and will be fractionally smaller, with rotors that are 140 metres in diameter.

“We regard this specific project as very exciting,” said Nils Kristian Nakstad, Enova’s executive director. “It represents a considerable ramping up of current technology, in which diverse Norwegian expert communities have co-operated to develop a totally new wind turbine design.”

The Sway system works by anchoring a weighted floating tower to the seabed. The consortium said the ballast will be located far enough below the water line to provide resistance to keep the turbine from falling over.

It added that the absence of expensive foundations – which contribute up to a third of installation costs for offshore wind turbines – will slash the cost of installation and make it easier for firms to install the turbines in open seas, where wind speeds are much higher.

“The funding will enable us to maintain the necessary rapid progression, as well as lay the foundation for total project financing,” said Eystein Borgen, managing director and founder of Sway. “This is a huge inspiration for everyone involved in the project.”

Last year the world’s first floating wind turbine was towed out into the North Sea. The 2.3MW Hywind was built by Siemens and is now on stream, according to owners Statoil.

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