BRITAIN’S first floating wind farm will be located off the Scottish coast following an announcement today that an agreement has been signed with an international energy firm.
The development, the largest floating wind scheme in Europe to date, will be sited off the Aberdeenshire coast after Norwegian company Statoil was granted a lease by the Crown Estate.
The scheme, part of Statoil’s ambitious Hywind project, will see five of the six-megawatt (MW) floating turbines operating in more than 100 metres of water at a site called Buchan Deep, which sits between 12 and 20 miles east of Peterhead.
With a total capacity of 30MW, the new scheme will have the potential to power up to 20,000 homes and will further enhance Scotland’s position as a global leader in the development of offshore wind technology.
Buchan Deep builds on the success of the first phase of Hywind, a test site of the world’s first full-scale floating turbine that has been operating off the coast of Norway since 2009.
A spokesman for the energy company, which recently opened an office in Aberdeen, welcomed the agreement and said Scotland’s great wind conditions made it ideal for the groundbreaking scheme.
“We are really proud of being present in Scotland,” he said. “The Hywind scheme is still at the development stage but we are pleased. It means a lot to us to have got the lease.”
He said it was too early to predict how many jobs would be created but it was a great opportunity to build upon technology already trialled in Norway.
Floating technology makes it possible to exploit sites in waters too deep for conventional offshore turbines to be installed. This helps lower the cost of energy generated. Although it will be connected to the national grid, the wind farm’s main role will be to test the latest innovations in turbine design with a view to helping the company bring down costs and create an economically viable scheme.
Yesterday, finance, employment and sustainable growth minister John Swinney said: “Scotland has a huge offshore wind resource, but to maximise this opportunity we need to move into deeper water. The lease agreement awarded to Statoil’s Hywind project offers the first step towards harnessing this resource.”
Statoil’s senior vice-president for renewable energy, Siri Espedal Kindem, said: “This is a significant milestone for the Hywind Scotland Pilot Park. It represents a new step in the development towards a future floating commercial-scale park.”
She said the company would be speaking to people in Scotland, including local communities, and would conduct marine surveys to demonstrate the technical feasibility of the floating wind farm.
Jenny Hogan, director of policy for Scottish Renewables, welcomed the decision to site the landmark scheme north of the Border. She said: “If this project is given consent it will be the first floating wind farm in the UK. Scotland already boasts a fantastic resource in offshore wind, and major investments by international companies such as Statoil is a sign of increasing confidence.”
She also highlighted the importance of continued investment in offshore wind through test and demonstration sites.
She said: “This gives us a greater chance of leading the global race to develop next-generation offshore wind technologies and establish ourselves as a key destination for offshore wind technology innovation and deployment.”
Head of offshore wind at the Crown Estate, Huub den Rooijen, said: “Investing in new technologies will be crucial to unlocking offshore wind potential over the long term whilst we continue to focus on the current development pipeline.”
The Crown Estate and Statoil have worked closely over the past two years to develop the project and now the Norwegian firm is preparing to seek planning permission from the Scottish Government.
Work has already begun on some of the environmental impact assessments, geological surveys and bird and marine studies that will need to be carried out in advance of construction, along with consultations with fisheries that will take place.