Turkey's first floating offshore wind energy study will help determine the wind energy potential in the country's seas through a unique design formulated by academics from the Izmir Institute of Technology (IYTE).
The study is examining a unique design modeling, scaled down to one-fortieth the size of a standard model, in the Civil Engineering Department Laboratory of the IYTE. The laboratory is home to a wave generator and an open-type wind generator, both designed and manufactured in-house.
A TÜBITAK 1001 grant of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK) has funded the project to investigate how the design modeling works under stormy weather conditions and regular and irregular waves.
The study, which kickstarted in 2018, has yielded positive results for the design modeling through computer assessments and is expected to receive a patent by the end of the experiment, likely to be this year.
"We aim to understand the mechanical behavior of floating offshore wind turbines located in deep seas because the economically viable areas for onshore wind turbines are gradually decreasing," Ünver Özkol, project coordinator and chair of the mechanical engineering department at IYTE, explained.
Özkol said that some countries, including Europe, Japan and the United States, have started to disclose their offshore wind energy potential, whether fixed or floating. This study will allow the country to similarly ascertain this potential when required.
He advised that Turkey could opt for floating plants rather than fixed bottom turbines given the difficulties and costs incurred in anchoring the turbines to the seafloor in depths over 50 meters (164 feet).
He argued that floating plants are more feasible given the geographical properties of the country’s seas, which are considered too deep – 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from shore where fixed wind turbines typically need to be placed to avail of strong winds.
Bergüzar Öztunalı Özbahçeci, an associate professor at IYTE's Civil Engineering Department and a project researcher, also echoed the view that floating offshore wind turbines are more economical for Turkey and the rest of the world.
The studies show that Turkey has 70 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind potential, of which 57 GW could come from floating plants and 12 GW from fixed types, according to Özbahçeci.
Özbahçeci said they aim to use their floating platform design as a prototype that can be applied worldwide, with their generator producing waves between 4 meters to 12 meters high.
The model tests the limits of high waves, and the researchers adjust the floating platform to accommodate various waves and wind patterns.
The research shows that the Aegean Sea is very suitable for floating turbines with its characteristic low waves and high winds.
"The Aegean Sea is a very economically viable option for floating offshore wind energy turbines," Özbahçeci said.
As a country surrounded by water on three sides, she urged that Turkey should avail its offshore wind potential as soon as possible.