A disruptive Norwegian technology based on a floating wind power plant is looking to radically change the conventional offshore wind energy industry by significantly increasing power generation at a competitive cost.
Developed by Wind Catching Systems, a company founded in 2017 by Asbjørn Nes, Arthur Kordt and Ole Heggheim with an aim to improve conventional offshore wind technology, the ’Windcatcher’ is made up of an array of multiple 1MW turbines on a large floating platform. Rising 1,000 feet into the air, each Windcatcher can produce enough electricity to power 80,000 homes.
The primary objective for the three founders was to build a system that was competitive enough to operate without subsidies. The development began with a few simple questions: Was the basic design used in offshore wind production today the right one? Was a technology based on old Dutch corn mills truly the most efficient method for offshore wind power production? While the current technology had performed well on land and bottom fixed offshore developments, was it necessarily the best system on a floater?
With a view to maximising power generation from a concentrated area, they started working on the idea of multi-turbines, leading to the development of the 1,000-foot Windcatchers. According to the company, the Windcatcher has an integrated substation, employs turret and mooring using well known technologies from the oil and gas industry, reduces acreage use by more than 80% compared to conventional offshore wind farms, and has a 50-year design life. Five wind catching units can produce the same amount of electricity as 25 conventional turbines.
Designed for simple operation and easy maintenance, the Windcatchers deliver electricity at grid parity prices with significant scalability potential allowing for further reductions.
Currently, Wind Catching Systems is collaborating with Aibel, a leading supplier in the European offshore wind segment, and IFE (Institute for Energy Technology) to further develop the technology, which is expected to be commercially available in 2022.