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Floating wind farm Scotland

Floating wind farm Scotland

Thick mooring lines will tether the towers to the sea base. The turbines can operate in water up to a kilometre deep

World’s first floating wind farm emerges off the north-east coast of Scotland (UK). Over there, the waters are too deep for conventional bottom-standing turbines. That’s why manufacturer Statoil has chosen this floating technology. It’s a pilot for more deep ocean regions in the world like the west coast of the US en coasts of Japan.

“It’s a game-changer for floating wind power and we are sure it will help bring costs down,” said Leif Delp, project director for Hywind.

Floating wind turbines

So far, one giant turbine has already been moved into place, while four more wait in readiness in a Norwegian fjord.

 

  • The tower, including the blades, stretches to 175m (575ft)
  • Each tower weighs 11,500 tonnes
  • The box behind the blades – the nacelle – could hold two double-decker buses
  • Each blade is 75m – almost the wing span of an Airbus
  • The turbines can operate in water up to a kilometre deep
  • The blades on the towers have been a particular focus for innovation.
  • Statoil says the blades harness breakthrough software – which holds the tower upright by twisting the blades to dampen motions from wind, waves and currents
  • The turbines can operate in water up to a kilometre deep

 

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Prices drop

Mr. Delp thinks that in the near future, floating wind farms could be financed without subsidy. The price of energy from bottom-standing offshore wind farms has plummeted 32% since 2012 – far faster that anyone predicted.

The price is now four years ahead of the government’s expected target, and another big price drop is expected, taking offshore wind to a much lower price than new nuclear power. The £190m cost was subsidised by bill-payers under the UK government’s Renewable Obligation Certificates.

Sea birds

Environmental organizations are enthusiastic about floating wind technology because it allows turbines to be placed far offshore – away from seabird nesting sites.

Floating turbines may create a new frontier for energy – but scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warn far more investment in additional new technologies is urgently needed for governments to keep promises on reducing emissions.

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