While our oceans house not only diverse ecologies and possibly the lost city of Atlantis, they now have something else to brag about: serving as prime real estate for some very renewable energy. Norwegian energy group Norsk Hydro is to place giant floating wind turbines in the North Sea that will provide a reasonable, environmentally-friendly and economically feasible alternative to standard energy generation processes.

“It’s attractive to have windmills out at sea, out of sight of land, away from birds’ migration routes,” said Alexandra Bech Gjoerv, head of Hydro’s New Energy division at a signing ceremony to develop floating wind turbine technology.

The design by Norsk Hydro uses a three -able tethered system, similar to the ones used in oil rigs, that holds a 200 meter tall steel tube with an attached turbine and three 60-meter-long blades. Norsk Hydro expects to be able to use this technology on sites located 50-100 miles off shore, and with a depth of up to 500 meters. Norsk Hydro’s turbine will be the first large scale prototype of its kind, expected to be installed in the North Sea by 2009. If successful, Norsk Hydro expects a full windmill to be operational by 2012.

+ Norsk Hydro
+ Floating wind turbine may be in sea by 2009@ Stuff
+ MIT designs ‘invisible,’ floating wind turbines @ Physorg
+ Model testing of floating wind turbine facility @ Marintek
+ Feasibility of floating platform systems for wind turbines