Norwegian Hydro relies on cost-effective aluminum for new floating wind design

Norwegian industrial giant Hydro and fellow next-generation offshore wind technology developer World Wide Wind (WWW) plan to explore using recycled aluminum to build a potentially revolutionary new floating design, according to a letter of intent ( LoI) signed today (Thursday).

The pair – which plans to expand their collaboration to study the wider use of the light metal alloy in the “renewable wind industry” – will begin by building a prototype of WWW’s counter-rotating vertical turbine (CVRT) concept, which features two spaced omnidirectional rotors on a tower structure, all anchored with a new turret-shaped mooring system to the seabed.

The CRVT – like Reload exclusively reported when the project was launched last August – could be a game-changer for the industry, diverting “destructive levels of torque and vibration” and reducing floating wind’s levelized cost of energy (LCOE) to €50/MWh ($49.85) from current levels over 2.5 times higher.

Today, wind turbines used for floating wind have much the same design as turbines intended for land-based wind. We are effectively moving land-based technology offshore,” said Trond Lutdal, CEO of WWW.

“We [at WWW] are developing a new type of deep-sea floating wind turbine, with significant advantages over current technology in terms of energy production, cost, scalability and environmental impact [by using] aluminum components in wind turbine structure parts.

Lutdal added: “Having Hydro partner in the development of our turbine using sustainable materials such as aluminium, is a big step forward for us. Using local content will be part of our joint strategy for the future.”

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Trond Furu, research manager at Norsk Hydro Corporate Technology research manager Trond Furu said: “For Hydro this is an entry into the wind turbine production chain and at the same time we are strengthening our position in the renewable energy space,

“Hydro sees the potential to increase aluminum in many industries, including wind energy.”

Under the LoI, Hydro, which is one of the world’s largest aluminum producers with more than 50 smelting plants in operation, and WWW now aim to form “a collaborative team, which will plan and detail relevant activities and actions.”

The sleek-profiled CRVT, which tilts in the water with the wind, “vertical axis and horizontal axis part,” is designed to minimize wake effect – the turbulence created when wind moves through a rotor star – created from three-bladed turbines, meaning a developer could “halve the distance between turbines on a wind farm, which is extremely important for wind capture efficiency in an area of ​​the project site,” he said Lutdal speaking with Reload last year.

Going forward, WWW aims to accelerate the development of the technology with “rapid prototyping” to arrive at a 3 MW model by 2026 of the CRVT and then make the leap to the giant 40 MW project by 2029, with an eye to ” spin off applications” for the concept which includes deep-sea charging stations, renewable-powered aquaculture and green hydrogen generation.

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