DETROIT – General Motors has been deploying its GM Ventures arm to kickstart next-generation clean tech that supports its stake in the global auto industry, and the latest venture is a doozy.  The autonaker has spearheaded a round of up to $10 million in funding for a new floating wind turbine system that looks like a giant wall of fidget spinners and acts like a giant energy-sucking sponge.

For those of you new to the topic, floating wind turbines are a relatively new addition to the field of offshore wind power, which is itself a relatively new development in the renewable energy field.

Offshore wind farms made with conventional, fixed-platform turbines that perch upon monopiles are generally more expensive to build than their onshore counterparts, and the ongoing maritime labor shortage isn’t making things any easier. However, the potential for offshore scale-up helps to even the financial playing field, as does the proximity of large coastal population centers.

Also, wind turbines aren’t getting any smaller. Onshore wind farms need to size down according to bridges, tunnels, curvy roads and other obstacles between the turbine factory and the construction site. Offshore wind turbines don’t need any such considerations, depending on the availability of suitable port operations.

That leads to the question of why bother building floating offshore wind farms. Floating technology is generally more expensive than fixed-platform construction, but site selection is the big allure. More offshore sites are available to floating turbines, which require only an anchor to attach to the seabed. They can be located in deeper waters, where monopile construction is impractical.

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