Shortly after Danish company Dong Energy announced that it was building the world’s largest offshore wind farm off the British coast, Scotland has upped the ante and announced plans to build something even more impressive: the world’s largest floating offshore wind farm. To make this possible, the Scottish Government is working with Statoil, a Norwegian oil and gas company, on the Hywind Scotland Pilot Park. The facility will be built off the Scotland coast with electricity flowing into Peterhead in Aberdeenshire.
Floating wind farms are a relatively new concept that promises to deliver power at an exceptionally low cost as compared to other offshore wind power sources. Statoil has been working on its floating wind farm technology since 2001, when it first conceptualized the idea. The company tested the concept in 2005 and followed that test with its first full-scale demo in 2009.
The company’s Hywind concept was designed as a slender cylinder with a motion controller that compensates for wind and ocean movements. It features a turbine-independent design that, in principle, lets engineers install any power generating turbine that meets the size and weight requirements for marine stability. Inspired by rugged oil and gas rigs, the floating structure is ballast stabilized and anchored to the seabed using three mooring lines attached to sunken anchors. It also can be positioned as needed to get the best wind
Statoil plans to build five floating wind turbines, which will provide enough power for 20,000 homes. Scheduled to begin in 2106, the pilot project is small in scale and designed to demonstrate the feasibility of using floating wind farms as a renewable energy source. “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,” said Irene Rummelhoff, Statoil’s executive vice president for new energy solutions.