Innovative 'floating wind farm' starts operation off coast of Scotland

Innovative ‘floating wind farm’ starts operation off coast of Scotland

The world’s first floating wind farm has been installed off the coast of Scotland and has started delivering electricity to the Scottish power grid.

The wind farm uses technology developed for North Sea oil platforms and allows the windmills to float in the rough sea, anchored by cables to be bottom, with orientation and stability managed electronically. The floating farm and will also utilise an innovative battery storage system to provide power for around 20,000 households.

The 30MW Hywind wind farm is being operated by Norway’s Statoil in partnership with Masdar. It is located 25km offshore of Peterhead in Aberdeenshire. The project is expected to generate around 135GWh of renewable electricity annually.

Statoil announced that a 1MWh lithium battery – named Batwind – will be installed on shore as part of the five-turbine floating wind farm project. This will help mitigate intermittency and optimise the energy output from the wind park to the grid.

“This marks an exciting development for renewable energy in Scotland, said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. “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.”

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.

The Hywind project's massive towers are positioned into place by tug boats

The Hywind project’s massive towers are positioned into place by tug boats

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 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.

“Our support for floating offshore wind is testament to our government’s commitment to the development of this technology.  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.”

Statoil aims 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.

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