World’s first floating wind farm opens off the Scottish coast

The world's first floating wind farm has today (18 October) started delivering electricity to the Scottish power grid, and will utilise an innovative battery storage system to provide power for around 20,000 households.

The 30MW Hywind wind farm, operated by Statoil in partnership with Masdar, was officially opened by the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon this morning. Located 25km offshore of Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, the project is expected to generate around 135GWh of renewable electricity annually.

The project’s onshore maintenance base is located in Peterhead, with an operations centre based in Great Yarmouth. Statoil announced that a 1MWh lithium battery – named Batwind – will be installed as part of the five-turbine floating wind farm project, to mitigate intermittency, lower costs and optimise the energy output from the wind park to the grid.

“I am delighted to open Hywind Scotland—the world’s first floating wind farm,” Sturgeon said. “Hywind will provide clean energy to over 20,000 homes and will help us meet our ambitious climate change targets.”

“This marks an exciting development for renewable energy in Scotland. Our support for floating offshore wind is testament to this government’s commitment to the development of this technology and, coupled with Statoil’s Battery Storage Project, Batwind, puts us at the forefront of this global race and positions Scotland as a world centre for energy innovation.”

They all float down here 

Statoil wants to lower the costs of energy from the Hywind floating wind farm to around €40-€60 per MWh by 2030, which would be lower than the “unprecedented” record low-strike price of £57.50 per MWh set by offshore wind projects in the latest Contract for Difference (CfD) auction.

Hywind differs from conventional offshore wind farms as it uses turbines attached to the seabed by a three-point mooring spread and anchoring system. The turbines are interconnected by cables which exports to the facility at Peterhead and the Batwind battery storage.

With up to 80% of potential offshore wind resource located in deep waters unsuitable for traditional bottom-fixed installations, Statoil believes that floating offshore wind will follow a similar downward cost trajectory of traditional offshore wind projects.

“Hywind can be used for water depths up to 800 meters, thus opening up areas that so far have been inaccessible for offshore wind,” Statoil’s executive vice president of new energy solutions Irene Rummelhoff said.

“The learnings from Hywind Scotland will pave the way for new global market opportunities for floating offshore wind energy. Through their government’s support to develop the Hywind Scotland project, the UK and Scotland are now at the forefront of the development of this exciting new technology. Statoil looks forward to exploring the next steps for floating offshore wind.”

Statoil’s sizeable renewables portfolio has the capacity to provide electricity for more than one million homes through its offshore projects alone. The energy giant recently acquired a 50% stake in the Arkona offshore wind farm in Germany, which will start delivering power in 2019.

Responding to the opening, WWF Scotland’s acting head of policy Gina Hanrahan said: “With around a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind resource in Scotland, it’s great to see the world’s first floating windfarm inaugurated off our coast.

“Offshore wind is already an industrial success story across the UK, cutting emissions, creating jobs and dramatically driving down costs. By demonstrating the commercial viability of floating wind, Scotland can help to develop the industry in new frontiers and deeper waters.”

The opening aligns to Scotland’s target to secure 50% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030, which was announced earlier this year. At the time of the announcement, 47% of the country’s energy use was sourced from petroleum products, while 27% derived from domestic or imported natural gas.

Matt Mace

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