The makers of wind turbines have, for many decades now, labored to harness one of the mightiest forces in nature. They’ve moved from onshore to offshore sites, building ever larger rotors with huge blades, each one now longer than a row of 10 London buses. And they’ve stacked those rotors atop dizzying towers, constantly reaching for new, blustery heights.
In their endless quest to capture the most reliably energetic winds, engineers are now moving further out into the ocean, to areas of deeper water where especially strong winds are known to blow. For offshore wind turbines—whose fixed-bottom foundations can only extend down 60 meters—such areas have long been off-limits. But a new generation of floating machines looks set to change that.
The potential bounty is huge. According to industry body Wind Europe, 80 percent of the offshore wind resource in European waters is in places too deep to make today’s fixed-bottom turbines an economically sensible choice. Deep water has also prevented the installation of large offshore wind farms off the western coast of the US, for example.

Floating turbines could open up vast swathes of ocean to electricity generation. But various floating turbine designs are competing over cost and efficiency. It’s time to begin hunting for a winner, given the many billions of dollars currently being invested in the floating offshore wind industry and the war in Ukraine potentially hastening the move away from fossil fuels

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