Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

Sturgeon to open world's first floating wind farm off Peterhead

Sturgeon to open world's first floating wind farm off Peterhead Sturgeon to open world's first floating wind farm off Peterhead
Nellie Chapman | 18 October, 2017, 17:51

Norwegian oil and gas powerhouse Statoil has announced that Hywind Scotland, the world's first floating wind farm, has started to send electricity to the Scottish grid.

The 30MW Hywind wind farm, operated by Statoil in partnership with Masdar, was officially opened by the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon this morning.

"The company has spent a lot of time and money developing this project so we are hugely excited for them but also for Scotland as this could make a significant contribution to our energy mix in the future".

Responding to the opening, WWF Scotland's acting head of policy Gina Hanrahan 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. Statoil looks forward to exploring the next steps for floating offshore wind". This will help steady the flow of power generated by the wind farm.

Bird charity RSPB Scotland opposed the project, not because it dislikes the technology but because it believes too many offshore turbines in the area have already been approved. Onshore in Peterhead, Statoil is meanwhile progressing a pilot battery storage facility, called Batwind, that will be wired into the project infrastructure in 2018.

The 172-metre turbines are nearly four times the height of the Forth Bridge.

The operation to tow the turbines into place from Norway was completed in August.

The official launch and beginning of electricity production from the world's first floating offshore wind farm was unsurprisingly praised by local supporters of clean energy.

Statoil said the technology deployed at Hywind is suitable for water depths of up to 800 metres.

"Our unique offshore supply chain and the skillset it supports put us at the forefront of the deployment of these innovative machines", she stated.

Statoil wants to lower the costs of energy from the Hywind floating wind farm to around €40-€60 per MWh by 2030, which would be lower than the "unprecedented" record low-strike price of £57.50 per MWh set by offshore wind projects in the latest Contract for Difference (CfD) auction.

Floating wind can unlock deeper water sites for generating wind energy.

Calculations in a recent report from BVG Associates suggested the "economically attractive" potential of offshore wind - zones generating at €65/MWh ($77/MWh) or less - could be 2,600TWh/year, of which 14% could flow from floating wind farms - meaning in an upside scenario, floaters could be pumping out half of the almost 6,000TWh/year potential.