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Clean Energy, Faster

How Robots Can Help Build Offshore Wind Turbines More Quickly

Wind power from farms located out at sea is one of the fastest-growing ways to generate renewable electricity. But construction can be frustratingly slow.

How Robots Can Help Build Offshore Wind Turbines
Photo illustration: Stephanie Davidson; Photos: Getty (4)

The invasion of Ukraine has put the US and Europe on a wartime mission to abandon Russian fossil fuels. This series looks at speeding up zero-carbon alternatives by lowering political and financial barriers. Sign up here to get the next story sent to your inbox.

Trying to attach a million-dollar, 60-ton wind turbine blade to its base is challenging in any circumstance — getting the angle wrong by even a fraction of a degree could affect the machine’s ability to generate power. Now imagine trying to do it in the middle of the North Sea, one of the world’s windiest spots, with waves swelling around you. It’s like tying a thread to a kite at the beach and then trying to put it through the eye of a needle.