Hywind Scotland Pilot Park : the future world’s largest floating wind farm
On the 2nd of November, the Scottish government granted a consent concerning the Hywind Scotland Pilot Park, and delivered a marine licence to Statoil, which allows the firm to develop the future world’s largest floating wind farm in Scotland.
The Hywind Scotland Pilot Park
The Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil is about to complement its portfolio by developing a huge floating wind farm in the North sea, at Buchan Deep, 25 km off the coast of Peterhead (Aberdeenshire). Starting from 2016, Statoil will build a 4 square kilometre park of 5 floating turbines. Each turbine, immersed in 95-120 meters water depth, will have a power of 6 MW, for a total capacity of 30 MW and a total production of 135 GW per year. Such production will be enough to supply about 20.000 households.
These five turbines will be quite different from conventional offshore windmills. Indeed each turbine will be fixed to the sea belt by a three-point mooring system but also by an anchoring system. Furthermore, they will be interconnected by an inter-array of cables, while another cable will transport the electricity from the park to the shoreline. The Hywind Park’s concept has been strongly tested thanks to a prototype implemented 6 years ago off the island of Karmøy in Norway. Scotland has been chosen to implement the first British floating wind farm project due to optimal wind conditions but also thanks to supportive public policies and the already existing supply chain from oil and gas industry that can be used.
Overall, Statoil will invest about 2 billion NOK (norsk krone) which is the equivalent of 217.1 million euros. Hywind Park is expected to start its production in 2017.
Future prospects of floating wind farm production
According to the Energy Technologies Institute (E.T.I.) floating wind farm’s energy currently needs greater support to be developed, as it could become cost-competitive with onshore wind or solar energies in the mid 2020’s. Indeed floating wind farms are easier and cheaper to install than conventional offshore wind farms. Thus it is expected to reduce generating costs to below £100 per MWh (142 euros) or even £85-95 per MWh when it currently costs around £112 per MWh (160 euros). On the other hand floating wind turbines can be commissioned and assembled at the quayside. Hence there is no need for heavy lift jackup or dynamic positioning vessels and thus, minimal consequences on sea life or on local environment.
The Hywind Scotland Pilot Park is the first project of such a scale, it is intended to show the technical and economical feasibility of floating wind farms in order to make this market more attractive in the future. It represents an important step forward and if it works, floating wind farms could become one of the most cost-effective forms of low-carbon energy.