World’s Largest Floating Wind Farm Will Be in the Scottish Seas

The Scottish government has stamped its approval for a floating offshore windmill warm that will be built off the coast of the country, out at sea.

The world’s largest offshore wind farm has been greenlit by the Scottish government and will see Norwegian energy firm Statoil engage in a pilot scheme to install five turbines that will be anchored out at sea.

The pilot batch will consist of five floating windmills with 6MW turbines each, totaling 30MW with the collective peak potential to generated 135GWh (Giga-watts/hr). That’s enough to power 20,000 homes.

Dubbed the Hywind Scotland project, construction is set to begin in 2016 and will be the UK’s first ever floating wind farm.

Speaking about the landmark project, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

The momentum is building around the potential for floating offshore wind technology to unlock deeper water sites.

The five turbines will be anchored 25kms (15 miles) off the coast of Peterhead in North East Scotland.

As reported by the BBC, he added:

The ability to leverage existing infrastructure and supply chain capabilities from the offshore oil and gas industry creates ideal conditions to position Scotland as a world leader in floating wind technology.

An Age of Floating Turbines

Hywind Scotland installation is different from conventional offshore wind farms by being anchored to the seabed with a three-point mooring spread where turbines will be attached. The turbines will also be interconnected via cables to create a farm, and one cable will zip back the generated energy back to land.

While the technology is still new, research indicates that offshore floating wind farms will operate on a reduced carbon footprint. A recent report [PDF] from the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) claimed that floating foundations operating at depths over 50 meters out at sea could be a cost-effective and credible low-carbon energy source in 10 years. The floating platform is expected to be installed in a depth of 100 meters from the seabed.

The Hywind Project is expected to reduce energy generating costs to below £100/MWh, thanks to its floating platform. Larger farms, if developed in the future could bring that figure further down to £85-100/MWh, compared to the global average of offshore projects that are currently at £112/MWh.

An artist’s concept of the Hywind Scotland wind farm.

Statoil, an energy giant that also operates in the oil and gas industry, chose Scotland due to favorable wind conditions and the strong support from legislators and the local government. Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president for New Energy Solutions at Statoil said:

Floating wind represents a new, significant and increasingly competitive renewable energy source.

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.

Speaking about the innovative project, World Wide Fund (WWF) Scotland director Lang Banks saw the potential for Scotland’s goal to be a fully renewable electricity country.

Successfully developing floating turbines could enable Scotland to secure even more clean energy from offshore wind in the future.

With the right political support for offshore wind and other renewable technologies, Scotland is well placed to become the EU’s first renewable electricity nation by 2030.

The construction of the pilot project will commence next year in 2016 and is expected to be up and running just a year later, with final commission scheduled to go through for a functioning, floating wind farm in the sea.

Featured image from Shutterstock. Windfarm concept image from Statoil.

Samburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.