Floating vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs) – designed with blades that are set at angles to the tower rather than upright as on the vast majority of industrial models turning today – have long been heralded by many in the offshore engineering community as key to harnessing the vast, high-velocity wind resource streaming over the world’s deep waters in the years ahead.

Despite clear design advantages over conventional three-bladed versions, including having no gearing or cooling systems and mass-manufacturability, lower-cost and more durable rotors, and generators built in at water-level instead of high above in the nacelle to add stability and make for easy maintenance and repair access during operation, VAWTs have so far failed to crack the market, with only a few models in active development today (see panel below).