Norwegian oil company StatoilHydro will build the world's first deepwater floating wind turbine next year off Norway's coast, it said on Thursday.
Offshore wind turbines already exist in numerous places around the world but they have all been stationary turbines planted on the bottom of the seabed.
StatoilHydro plans to attach the floating turbine to the top of a buoy, using technology similar to that of offshore oil and gas platforms.
It has several advantages over a stationary turbine -- it can be placed in far deeper waters, where winds are often stronger, and it can be moved.
StatoilHydro is investing 400 million kroner (50.9 million euros, 80 million dollars) in the test project, dubbed Hywind, and will begin in the second half of 2009 in the North Sea, 10 kilometers (six miles) from Karmoey island off the southwestern coast.
The turbine will have a capacity of 2.3 megawatts and will be fixed to a so-called "spar" buoy. It will tower some 65 meters (213 feet) above the waves.
"Taking wind turbines to sea presents new opportunities. The wind is stronger and more consistent, areas are large and the challenges we are familiar with from onshore projects are fewer," Alexandra Bech Gjoerv, the head of StatoilHydro's New Energy division, said in a statement.
Tests will be conducted for two years to determine the project's viability.
"Floating wind power is not mature technology yet, and the road to commercialisation and large scale development is long. An important aspect of the project is therefore research and development," she said.
StatoilHydro has previously said it hopes to build a park of giant turbines capable of floating in depths of up to 170 meters and each capable of providing power for 1,000 homes, but has said that such deepwater wind farms are still years off.