Tepco, Shell, RWE back floating wind turbines

Japan-based electric utility Tepco has taken a 30% stake in the TetraSpar floating wind turbine project. Royal Dutch Shell and German utility RWE are already investors in the project.

The move is another sign of interest in floating offshore wind from the major utilities and energy companies.

TetraSpar claims that its inspiration of the Model T Ford – a product that can be mass-produced in a factory setting.

TetraSpar hopes to make tubular parts on the same factory production lines used to make turbine towers, then ship the parts to a port near the installation site for assembly. When constructed and installed, the tetrahedral foundation is anchored by three mooring lines and connected to a triangular steel “keel,” which hangs below and provides ballast.

The components for the first prototype foundation were built by offshore wind tower fabricator Welcon last year. They were trucked to the port of Grenaa, Denmark and assembled in a process that took less than two months. The prototype is scheduled for launch this year. It will carry a small 3.6 MW Siemens turbine for initial trials at the Marine Energy Test Centre off Stavanger, Norway.

Tepco RP president Seiichi Fubasami said that “the TetraSpar technology can also be utilized in Japan’s natural conditions and a more efficient supply chain can be established closer to the project sites. We believe that it is a promising technology that can play an important part in efforts to promote the transition to renewable energies as primary energy sources.”