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The problem with offshore wind turbines is that they need to be positioned relatively close to the shore where the water is not too deep, and this upsets residents local to the coastline. Residents don’t want to see wind turbines spoiling their views of the water. The Scandia Offshore Wind project which was planned for the waters of Lake Michigan was cancelled due to local protests. However a new technology, floating turbines, means that offshore wind farms can be installed in Lake Michigan, placed far beyond site.
The Seattle based engineering firm, The Glosten Associates, have worked for six years on their PelaStar floating wind turbine. It has been fully tank tested and now the plan is to install full-scale prototypes in the lake to continue testing. Charles Nordstrom, senior engineer on the project, grew up on the shores of Lake Erie and said, “I get it … I understand how waterfront property owners feel about turbines in front of their houses.”
Arn Boezaart, MAREC director and member of the former Michigan Offshore Wind Council, said that, “with offshore wind, 80 percent of the problem is visibility, which is a big issue,” but “this is technology that wants to be in deep water, not near shore.”
The turbines work by having a highly buoyant platform at the base which is secured to the base of the lake or ocean by long cables. The buoyant platform wants to rise up in the water but is prevented from doing so by the cables which creates a very high tension. “The wind turbine will always stay vertical and it performs as if it was anchored,” Nordstrom said.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com