By Anders Lorenzen
Offshore wind farms now float.
On Wednesday, the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, opened the five-turbine, 30 megawatt (MW), Hywind floating offshore wind farm, 25 kilometers off the coast of Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. The wind farm will supply electricity to approximately 20,000 households.
The wind farm is operated by Statoil in partnership with the car-free city initiative, Masdar City.
Floating offshore wind farms are considered transformative for the industry as they allow wind farms to be operational in deeper waters than conventional offshore turbines. Hywind can be used in water depths of up to 800 meters, made possible by each turbine’s foundations stretching 80 -100 meters beneath the sea surface. This opens up areas that have so far been inaccessible for offshore wind. It is anticipated that Hywind Scotland, will pave the way for new global market opportunities for floating offshore wind energy. Through its support of Hywind, the Scottish government sets out to demonstrate its desire to utilise new and innovative technologies to expand the nation’s potential renewable capacity.
Mrs Sturgeon said as she opened the wind farm: I am delighted to open Hywind Scotland, the world’s first floating wind park. Hywind 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.
Addressing the Wired Energy conference in London last month Statoil’s Sonja Chirico Indrebo acknowledged that in the grand scheme of things, compared to today’s offshore wind farms 30 MW is not a lot. But she stressed that this is new technology and it is just the beginning and they could gradually start moving up to a couple of 100 MW for the next projects, with the goal of eventually moving towards the 1GW mark.
Another project, the Dounreay Tri floating offshore wind farm on the west coast of Scotland, had hoped to beat the Hywind project to become the world’s first of its kind. But Dounreay Tri, a slightly smaller project consisting of two turbines totaling a capacity of 10MW, is not going to be ready for unveiling before next year.