Development of offshore wind farms has been restricted to places where turbines can be attached to the sea bed.
But earlier this week, Siemens and energy company StatoilHydro installed what they call the first large-scale floating turbine. The installation is off the coast of Norway, and testing is expected to last for two years.
The Hywind turbine will still have a ballast that is tied to the sea floor with cables. Wires will transfer the electricity produced to the mainland grid starting in July.
If successful, the project could open up offshore wind to countries that don't have relatively shallow waters of 100 feet to 165 feet off their coasts. The Hywind is suitable for depths of about 400 feet to more than 2,200 feet.
"Hywind could open...new opportunities for exploitation of offshore wind power, as the turbines could be placed much more freely than before," Henrik Stiesdal, chief technology of the Siemens' Wind Power business unit, said in a statement.
The turbine in Norway will be 7.4 miles offshore where the water is 721 feet deep. It will be utility-size turbine, with a hub height of about 100 feet, capable of generating 2.3 megawatts of electricity.
To address the conditions of the deep sea, the turbine will have a specially designed control system that will seek to dampen the motion from waves.