Scotland set for world's largest floating offshore wind farm

The Scottish Government has granted consent for the world's largest floating offshore wind farm to be developed off the coast of Peterhead.

Floating offshore differs from conventional offshore wind farms by using turbines attached to the seabed by a three-point mooring spread

Floating offshore differs from conventional offshore wind farms by using turbines attached to the seabed by a three-point mooring spread

Oil and gas giant Statoil will build a 30MW pilot park consisting of five floating 6MW turbines. The project could eventually generate 135GWh of electricity a year, enough to power nearly 20,000 homes.

The project will be the UK's first ever floating wind farm development, with construction set to start next year.

Statoil’s executive vice president for New Energy Solutions Irene Rummelhoff said: “Floating wind represents a new, significant and increasingly competitive renewable energy source.

"Statoil’s objective with developing this pilot park is to demonstrate a commercial, utility-scale floating wind solution, to further increase the global market potential. We are proud to develop this unique project in Scotland, in a region that has optimal wind conditions, a strong supply chain within oil and gas and supportive public policies."

Floating turbines

The development, known as Hywind Scotland, differs from conventional offshore wind farms by using turbines attached to the seabed by a three-point mooring spread and anchoring system. The turbines are interconnected by cables, one of which exports electricity from the pilot farm to the shore at Peterhead.

Research from the Carbon Trust has suggest that floating wind concepts could potential reduce generating costs for offshore developments to below £100/MWh, with larger concepts such as Hywind producing even lower costs of £85-95/MWh. Currently the global average levelised cost of electricity for offshore projects is £112/MWh.

Deputy first minister John Swinney said: “Hywind is a hugely exciting project – in terms of electricity generation and technology innovation – and it’s a real testament to our energy sector expertise and skilled workforce that Statoil chose Scotland for the world’s largest floating wind farm.

“The momentum is building around the potential for floating offshore wind technology to unlock deeper water sites. The ability to leverage existing infrastructure and supply chain capabilities from the offshore oil and gas industry create the ideal conditions to position Scotland as a world leader in floating wind technology.”

Gaining momentum

Last month the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) released a report indicating that floating offshore wind could be a credible, cost-effective form of low-carbon energy for the UK by the mid-2020's.

Swedish floating wind developer Hexicon also threw its support behind the cost competitiveness of floating offshore developments.

Speaking exclusively with edie, Hexicon’s international business development director Maurice Jenkens said: “It’s still a new technology and still needs massive investment to reach this tipping point, but inevitably that’s going to happen. It’s going to take 10 years of massive investment but time is the only real obstacle.”

Matt Mace


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