The world’s first floating wind farm is being built 15 miles off the northeast coast of Scotland. The Hywind pilot park, expected to come online late next year, will generate enough power for 20,000 homes. The location will take advantage of average local North Sea wind speeds in excess of 20 miles per hour.
Floating wind turbines can be placed further away from the coast in deeper water because they don’t have to be anchored to sea floor-mounted towers. Floor-mounting is limited to not much more than 250 foot depths and optimally is suited to 60-160 foot depths. The Hywind park site has a water depth between 310 and 395 feet.
Locating far away from shore means reduced visual pollution – the wind turbines won’t spoil anyone’s view – and can take advantage of generally stronger and more consistent winds. A floating wind farm is also less likely to interfere with fishing or shipping activity.
Spearheaded by a deal between the Scottish government and Norwegian oil company Statoil, the floating wind farm will also incorporate a 1 MWh battery energy storage system that will mitigate intermittency and optimize the output of the wind farm. Statoil is calling the installation “Batwind” and the company believes that the technology will become an important part of its portfolio of offshore wind products. Batwind is being developed in cooperation with Scottish universities and suppliers.
The Hywind pilot park is a relatively small installation but is an important demonstration of the viability of what could turn out to be a key element in the future penetration of renewable energy technologies.
Photo, posted November 2, 2015, courtesy of Statoil ASA via Flickr.