UK launches contest to reduce offshore wind perils

Tue Sep 28, 2010 11:01pm GMT

* Wind turbines to be built in deeper waters

* Competition involves technology for 3 aspects of transfer

* A successful entry may get 100,000 pounds to develop idea

LONDON, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Britain's Carbon Trust has launched a global competition for a safer alternative to what it calls the "leap of faith" that workers have to make to transfer from service boats onto offshore wind turbines in rough seas.

Britain is planning to plant thousands of wind turbines at increasing distances from shore over the next two decades, and the publically funded body estimates the bill could be cut by 3 billion pounds ($4.8 billion) by finding a safer way to get workers and equipment onto the turbines in rough waters.

"As developers seek to get wind turbines into deeper waters, where the wind blows more wildly and the waves are stronger, it is vital that access and safety are maximised and costs minimised," said Charles Hendry, UK energy minister.

"This competition will help turn ideas into reality, and successful innovators will see their solutions power the next phase in the UK's offshore wind expansion," he added in a statement.

So far, Britain's offshore wind farms have huddled fairly close to shore, where sea conditions are relatively calm, allowing maintenance workers to get off boats and onto ladders running up the side of the turbines fairly safely. [ID:nLDE68M1OR]   Continued...

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