Statoil, a Scotland-based energy company, has announced plans to build a floating wind farm, dubbing it the world’s first-ever plan of its kind. The project is called Hywind Scotland and is slated to be built in the coastal waters of Peterhead, Scotland, a busy fishing port located at the north-end of the country.
Statoil will install a 30-megawatt wind turbine farm on floating structures at Buchan Deep, 15 miles offshore, harnessing Scottish wind resources to provide renewable energy to the mainland, powering about 20,000 homes.
Construction is scheduled to start in late 2017.
Hywind Scotland will differ 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.
“Our objective with the Hywind pilot park is to demonstrate the feasibility of future commercial, utility-scale floating wind farms,” says Irene Rummelhoff, the company’s executive vice president for New Energy Solutions. “This will further increase the global market potential for offshore wind energy, contributing to realizing our ambition of profitable growth in renewable energy and other low-carbon solutions.”
The development area will cover around 2.5 square miles, and the average wind speed in this area of the North Sea is about 22 mph. Rummelhoff refers to the region’s “huge wind resource” and existing supply-chain infrastructure for the area’s well-developed oil and gas business.
Research from the Carbon Trust indicates that floating wind-power facilities of Hywind’s scale might be able to reduce generating costs for offshore developments to less than $140 per megawatt hour. Currently the global average cost of electricity for offshore projects is $170 per megawatt hour.
Offshore wind already has a strong foothold in Europe, according to the company, with 10 gigawatts of installed capacity, and a global potential to reach more than 100 gigawatts by 2030. Floating structures could enable power generation in new deep-water areas around the world.
Mike Consol is editor of Real Assets Adviser.