Delft University of Technology researcher Antonio Jarquin Laguna has examined the possibility of a “hydraulic” offshore wind farm that would see the direct drive mechanisms of current wind turbines replaced with positive displacement seawater pumps.
Currently, electricity produced by each wind turbine in a wind farm is fed back to a central offshore platform before being transported to shore through subsea cables on the seabed. As such, an offshore wind farm acts as a power plant that produces electricity by means of hundreds of different generators.
Jarquin Laguna investigated the idea of centralized electricity production in a wind farm for which only a few high-capacity generators are necessary. For this, he explored a new way of generating, combining and transmitting wind energy with no intermediate electrical conversion until the energy has reached the central offshore platform.
In the proposed concept, the conventional gearbox or direct drive mechanism of the wind turbine is replaced by a positive displacement pump, which is used to bring pressurized seawater into a hydraulic network. The water is brought together under high pressure from the wind turbines and fed back to the central offshore platform, where electricity is generated by a so-called Pelton turbine.
Jarquin Laguna conducted simulations of a hypothetical hydraulic wind farm subjected to turbulent wind conditions. The performance of individual turbines was compared to those of a wind farm with conventional technology turbines, with the same layout and environmental conditions. The results indicate that a hydraulic wind farm would be able to achieve satisfactory performance levels.
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