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Wind Sector Hopes Floating Turbines will Drive Down Costs

The Crown Estate, the organisation that controls most of the seabed around the UK, has given approval to Statoil to go ahead with the installation of a floating wind farm just off the coast of Aberdeenshire in Scotland. The Buchan Deep wind farm will only exist as a pilot project to test the feasibility of the technology. It will consist of five turbines generating 30MW, and if successful prove a huge step in the fight to reduce costs.

The committee on climate change warned energy and climate change minister Ed Davey that investment in wind power was at risk unless the government began to offer higher subsidies and financial support, however the government has replied that it is up to the energy companies to find ways to reduce the cost of wind, and have even unveiled a schedule to reduce subsidies.

Michael Fallon, the minister for state energy, explained that this decision to install turbines on floating platforms follows a similar trend in the North Sea oil and gas industry where floating platforms enabled huge cost reductions, and allowed rigs to operate in deeper waters.

Related article: The Eagle Has Landed … On a Wind Turbine

In order to remain profitable after subsidies begin to decline the wind industry has set the target of reducing costs by 30%. As the first floating wind farm, the Buchan Deep project is set to lead this cost reduction drive.

Huub den Rooijen, the head of offshore wind at the Crown Estate, said that “investing in new technologies will be crucial to unlocking offshore wind potential over the long term while we focus on the current development pipeline.”

Fallon said that “this innovative project will lead to the construction of the first floating offshore windfarms in the UK. This underlines the UK's attractiveness as the number one destination for offshore wind development.”

The Hywind floating wind turbine
The Hywind floating wind turbine.

Statoil, the Norwegian state-owned oil and gas giant, has been running tests on a single floating turbine, known as the Hywind, off the coast of Norway for the past six years, but this new project will be the first time that several turbines have been erected in close proximity to one another.

Related article: Wind Energy Spreading Beyond Europe

Statoil has still to give a final approval of investment before beginning the project, but claims that the approval from the Crown Estate is a significant milestone.

Siri Espedal Kindem, the senior vice president for renewable energy at Statoil, said; “we look forward to a progressed dialogue with key stakeholders in Scotland, including communities, the local supply chain and the authorities. We will continue to mature the Hywind pilot towards a final investment decision, by conducting marine surveys and concept studies in order to demonstrate technical and commercial feasibility.”

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com


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