Commercial-scale floating wind farm takes shape off Scottish coast

The construction of the world’s first commercial-scale floating wind farm is almost complete its developers have announced.

HyWind floating wind farm

The £190m Hywind project, which is 75 per cent owned by Statoil and 25 per cent owned by Abu Dhabi energy firm Masdar, will see five 6MW floating wind turbines installed in up to 120mof water at Buchan Deep, around 25km from Peterhead on Scotland’s north east coast.

The 30MW wind farm, which is due to begin operating later this year (2017) is expected to generate around 135GWh of energy per year, enough electricity to power approximately 20,000 households.

Unlike conventional offshore turbines, which are fixed to the seabed by foundations, the Hywind device is attached to a cylindrical structure that floats in the water. Tethers anchored to the seafloor hold it in place.

Earlier this month, the first of five turbines for the wind farm was shipped from Stord in Norway, and the installation of all five turbines is expected to be complete by the end of August.

A pilot Hywind device, installed off the coast of Norway and equipped with a 2.3MW Siemens turbine, has operated successfully since 2009.

As previously reported by The Engineer, floating turbines are considered attractive because they can be placed in deeper water where the wind speeds tend to be higher and steadier. Because they don’t require extensive foundations, they are also cheaper to assemble and install.

A number of other projects are underway around the world. The technology is thought to hold particular promise in Japan – where deep water makes conventional offshore wind impractical. Through the so-called Fukushima Forward project, a number of turbines are being installed at a site 20km off the North East mainland. Elsewhere, a 2MW prototype known as WindFLoat is currently generating off the coast of Aguçadoura in Portugal, whilst there are plans to build an industrial scale 24MW floating wind farm of the west coast of France.