Energy

World's first floating wind farm powers up off Scotland

World's first floating wind fa...
Hywind Scotland, the world's first floating wind farm, has just been fired up
Hywind Scotland, the world's first floating wind farm, has just been fired up
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The floating turbines used in the Hywind farm can operate in water  up to 10 times deeper than turbines fixed to the seafloor, opening up far more opportunities for offshore wind farms
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The floating turbines used in the Hywind farm can operate in water  up to 10 times deeper than turbines fixed to the seafloor, opening up far more opportunities for offshore wind farms
Each turbine in the Hywind facility stands 253 m tall, taking advantage of average wind speeds of 10 m per second
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Each turbine in the Hywind facility stands 253 m tall, taking advantage of average wind speeds of 10 m per second
Hywind Scotland, the world's first floating wind farm, has just been fired up
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Hywind Scotland, the world's first floating wind farm, has just been fired up
The Hywind farm sits 25 km off the coast of Scotland, and is made up of five 6-MW turbines spaced out over 4 sq km
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The Hywind farm sits 25 km off the coast of Scotland, and is made up of five 6-MW turbines spaced out over 4 sq km

Offshore wind farms like the Gemini facility in the Netherlands can tap into the higher average wind speeds over the ocean, but unfortunately these facilities can only be built in relatively shallow water. Floating turbines can help harvest wind energy from above deeper waters, so to that end, the world's first floating wind farm has just fired up off the coast of Scotland.

Floating some 25 km (15.5 mi) off the coast of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the Hywind farm has a capacity of 30 MW and will supply power to about 22,000 homes. Spaced over an area of about 4 sq km (1.5 sq mi), the farm is made up of five 6-MW turbines that stand 253 m (830 ft) tall, taking advantage of average wind speeds of 10 m (33 ft) per second.

While this pilot facility is a far cry from the 630-MW London Array, the world's largest offshore wind farm, it does have a key advantage: its floating turbines can operate in water up to 800 m (2,625 ft) deep, 10 times deeper than the upper limit of fixed facilities. That drastically widens the net of viable locations for offshore wind farms, a technology with incredible energy-generation potential.

The Hywind farm sits 25 km off the coast of Scotland, and is made up of five 6-MW turbines spaced out over 4 sq km
The Hywind farm sits 25 km off the coast of Scotland, and is made up of five 6-MW turbines spaced out over 4 sq km

The Hywind turbines are floating in water between 95 and 129 m (312 and 423 ft) deep, each one stabilized with three suction anchors. They're all linked together, and the energy they produce is exported to shore through a 30 km (18.6 mi) cable at a voltage of 33 kV.

While it's still relatively small, the Hywind facility is intended to demonstrate the feasibility of the technology, eventually paving the way for floating wind farms that are more than 10 times bigger.

"Statoil has an ambition to reduce the costs of energy from the Hywind floating wind farm to €40 - 60/MWh (US$47 – $71) by 2030," says Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president of New Energy Solutions at Statoil, the company operating the farm in partnership with Masdar. "Knowing that up to 80% of the offshore wind resources are in deep waters where traditional bottom fixed installations are not suitable, floating offshore wind is expected to play a significant role in the growth of offshore wind going forward."

Source: Statoil

7 comments
Martin Winlow
If Statoil succeeds in reducing the cost of such energy to €0.05/kWh, I can't for the life of me see how Hinckley Point C will make any money - given that its electricity is slated to cost 4 times that by the time it is actually generating (assuming it ever gets built).
CarrieErbagSmith
E.On is currently constructing a 116-turbine wind farm off the coast of Newhaven, East Sussex. Originally intended to be much larger, the number of turbines had to be considerably reduced after planning consent was obtained. It's expected to be completed and in operation in 2018. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rampion_Wind_Farm
Nik
I hope the 33Kv cable is well protected from damage by trawlers and other fishing craft, otherwise their catch could be pre-cooked.
notarichman
being a naysayer; I'm wondering what will happen when a big storm occurs or a ship hits one?
Michael Z. Williamson
And in reality, it will be operate at about 15% of rated capacity, like all the other windmills, with increased installation and maintainance cost due to the need to use boats or aircraft, and the added cost of protecting the transmission from saltwater. Martin: "If."
ljaques
As previously discussed, what are the real-world numbers for actual vs. theoretical output, actual vs. planned installation figures, long term maintenance costs in sea enviro, risk figures for storms and ship contact accidents, sea bird deaths, ocean noise pollution figures, outcome of megawatt electrical shorts into the ocean, etc. As long as governments subsidize these things, these folks will keep building them. Would any be built if not for the subsidies? There's a reason nobody lists all these figures, right?
eugenio
30 km of cable in 33 kV? That's a very low voltage for that length! I wonder if they get any power at all on the shore...