Statoil, the Norwegian multinational oil and gas company, has been granted a marine licence for their application proposing a pilot park of five floating 6 MW (megawatt) turbines. It is expected the Hywind Scotland development could power up to 19,900 houses.
Unlike in conventional wind farms, turbines will be attached to the seabed by a three-point mooring spread and anchoring system.
The turbines will be connected by an inter-array of cables and an export cable will transport electricity from the pilot park to shore at Peterhead.
The Carbon Trust believe floating wind concepts could reduce generating costs to below £100/MWh (megawatt hour) in commercial deployments.
Welcoming Statoil’s Hywind development, John Swinney, deputy First Minister, said: “Hywind is a hugely exciting project – in terms of electricity generation and technology innovation – and it’s a real testament to our energy sector expertise and skilled workforce that Statoil chose Scotland for the world’s largest floating wind farm.
“The momentum is building around the potential for floating offshore wind technology to unlock deeper water sites.
“The ability to leverage existing infrastructure and supply chain capabilities from the offshore oil and gas industry create the ideal conditions to position Scotland as a world leader in floating wind technology.”
Maggie McGinlay, director of energy and clean technologies at Scottish Enterprise, described the announcement as “a clear indication that Scotland’s growing strengths in offshore wind are recognised at an international level”.
He added: “This announcement is fantastic news for Scotland’s renewables industry as a whole, but in particular our growing offshore wind supply chain.
“We’ve been working closely with our companies to directly link them with Statoil for some considerable time to ensure they are in the best position possible to take advantage of the significant opportunities we know this development will bring.
Irene Rummelhoff, Statoil’s executive vice-president, said: “Floating wind represents a new, significant and increasingly competitive renewable energy source. Statoil’s objective with developing this pilot park is to demonstrate a commercial, utility-scale floating wind solution, to further increase the global market potential.
“We are proud to develop this unique project in Scotland, in a region that has optimal wind conditions, a strong supply chain within oil and gas and supportive public policies.”
Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, welcoming the development, said: “Successfully developing floating turbines could enable Scotland to secure even more clean energy from offshore wind in the future.
“With the right political support for offshore wind and other renewable technologies, Scotland is well placed to become the EU’s first renewable electricity nation by 2030.
“As we approach the Holyrood elections, we call on all political parties to set out their plans to create jobs and cut carbon by continuing to grow renewables in Scotland.”