Economy

World's first floating windfarm opens off Scottish coast

Nicola Sturgeon will formally open the world's first floating wind farm later.

"Statoil has an ambition to reduce the costs of energy from the Hywind floating wind farm to 40 to 60 euros per megawatt-hour by 2030", she said in a statement.

Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney said "the ability to leverage existing infrastructure and supply chain capabilities from offshore oil and gas industry create the ideal conditions to position Scotland as a world leader in floating wind technology".

Gina Hanrahan, acting head of policy at WWF Scotland said: "With around a quarter of Europe's offshore wind resource in Scotland, it's great to see the world's first floating windfarm inaugurated off our coast".

The pilot project followed the successful operation of a prototype installed off the island of Karmøy in Norway.

As it is still early for floating wind projects, the technology can't compete with conventional offshore wind's cost.

The Hywind project receives government support in the form of renewable obligation certificates.

While the technology relies heavily on subsidies, it opens up new areas for offshore wind power that previously has not been accessible because of the water depths. The five 6-MW Siemens Gamesa machines were installed on their floating foundations and then towed to Scotland.

The 30 megawatt (MW) wind farm, which is operated by Norway-based energy firm Statoil and UAE partner Masdar, is set 25 kilometers offshore Peterhead in Aberdeenshire and will power around 20,000 households.

"Floating offshore wind is now a viable technology and ready to be rolled out on an industrial scale", European wind power association Wind Europe said in an email.

The 172-metre turbines are positioned in water depths of up to 129m, however it is said they can operate in depths of 800m. The potential for floating is massive: "4,000GW in Europe alone". However, Statoil believes this will change with more deployment and a more mature supplier chain.

"That deployment, through sites like Hywind and the Kincardine project further south will help lower costs for this young sector, increasing the opportunity for Scotland to take advantage of a significant future global market".

Supporters hope it will mark the start of a new era of offshore wind power, allowing developers to deploy turbines in deeper water where the wind is stronger and capable of delivering higher yields.

It fears thousands of sea birds may be killed by offshore wind farms.



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