The world’s first commercial-scale floating wind farm is about to start production after the delivery of the fifth and final turbine to the site of the farm, Buchan Deep, off the coast of Scotland.
In the following weeks, final installations will be done at the site and the farm will be ready for launch, as Statoil planned when it announced its final investment decision for the facility.
The Norwegian company, which is also very active in wind power in Europe, said at the time that the 30-MW project would need investments of US$250 million (2 billion crowns). Statoil noted that this was 60-70 percent lower than the cost of the demo version of Hywind, developed off the Norwegian coast.
In January this year, Emirati Masdar bought a 25-percent interest in Hywind, with the remainder staying in Statoil’s hands. The Emirati company is betting big on renewable energy projects, with total investments so far at US$8.5 billion.
The Hywind project is unique in that it is the first offshore wind farm that has the turbines floating, on a 78-meter-long underwater ballast structure and three mooring lines connecting the turbines to the seabed to keep them upright. The Guardian quoted Statoil’s head of low-carbon operations as noting that the floating turbine approach can work at water depths of between 100 and 700 meters but that’s not the limit and greater depths will also soon become available for floating wind farms.
Traditional wind turbines offshore can only be installed at depths of up to 40 meters--and that makes the North Sea particularly suitable for wind power installations because of its shallow waters. Yet floating turbines can open up much wider parts of seas and oceans to renewable energy generation.
Meanwhile, Statoil is expanding in wind power beyond its home continent. Last December, the company won an offshore wind lease in New York, bidding US$42.47 million for 79,350 acres. The area, Statoil said, can accommodate generation capacity of more than 1 GW.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.