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Scotland: world 1st floating wind farm, built by offshore oil company, begun in 2016 now delivers electricity powering 20k homes


By WcP.Scientific.Mind - Posted on 18 October 2017

(quote)

18 Oct 2017 - First floating wind farm, built by offshore oil company, delivers electricity - Anchored, floating turbines allow offshore wind installations in deep waters.
The world’s first floating offshore wind farm began delivering electricity to the Scottish grid today.

The 30MW installation, situated 25km (15.5mi) from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, will demonstrate that offshore wind energy can be harvested in deep waters, miles away from land, where installing giant turbines was once impractical or impossible. At peak capacity, the wind farm will produce enough electricity to power 20,000 Scottish homes.

The installation, called Hywind Scotland, is also interesting because it was built by Statoil, a Norwegian mega-corporation known for offshore oil drilling. Statoil has pursued offshore wind projects in recent years, using the company's experience building and managing infrastructure in difficult open sea conditions to its advantage.

Hywind Scotland began producing power in September, and today it starts delivering electricity to the Scottish grid.

The five 6MW turbines are the first commercial turbines to lack a firm attachment to the seafloor. The towers extend 176m (577ft) above the water and 78m (256ft) below it. Each tower is capable of pitching its blades to reduce unwanted motion and optimize power output depending on the wind direction and strength.

The project cost about 200 million pounds ($263 million) to construct, according to Bloomberg. But the UK government will help Statoil recover that cost. It has pledged to deliver 3.5 Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) to Statoil for the power produced by Hywind Scotland.

But why build floating offshore wind farms in the first place? The farther out you can place offshore turbines, the steadier and faster the wind is. It also comes with the added benefit of avoiding any community arguments over clean ocean views, not to mention the fact that unimaginably large rotor components can be delivered by sea rather than by land, where roads have weight limits and turns can get tricky. In addition, Statoil claims that 80 percent of offshore wind resources are in deep water, where fixed installation would be prohibitively expensive.

So floating offshore wind offers a way to bring more wind power online in a theoretically cheaper fashion. Wind is already seeing the benefits of a significant learning curve. In January, The Crown Estate, which manages the UK seabed (and has leased the necessary acreage to Statoil for Hywind Scotland) released a report saying that the cost of offshore wind had come down 34 percent in the last four years. Another report published in Nature Energy in November 2016 estimated that advances in turbine technology would reduce the cost of wind by 24 to 30 percent by 2030. Hywind Scotland is a step in that direction.

The world's first floating offshore wind farm started delivering electricity to the grid in the north of Scotland.
"This marks an exciting development for renewable energy in Scotland," said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. "Hywind will provide clean energy to over twenty thousand homes and will help us meet our ambitious climate change targets."

Wind turbines have been installed on seabeds since the 1990s. Taking them offshore typically increases wind speeds and reduces complaints from neighbors, but it has also been limited to relatively shallow seas. Floating turbines are expected to open the industry up to new markets like Japan, the U.S. west coast and Mediterranean, where seabeds drop off steeply from the coast. "Hywind can be used for water depths up to 800 meters, thus opening up areas that so far have been inaccessible for offshore wind," said Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president of the New Energy Solutions business area at Statoil.

The cost of conventional offshore wind farms has been plummeting in recent years. The U.K.'s latest renewable energy auction saw prices drop to 57.50 pounds per megawatt-hour, less than a third the cost of new nuclear in the U.K. Rummelhoff expects floating offshore wind to follow a similar trajectory.

Nov 2015: World's largest floating windfarm gets green light in Scotland
The Scottish government has granted consent for the world's largest floating offshore windfarm to be developed off the coast of Peterhead.
Last month the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) released a report indicating that floating offshore wind could be a credible, cost-effective form of low-carbon energy for the UK by the mid-2020's.

(unquote)

Image courtesy Øyvind Hagen / Statoil ASA and Statoil

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