The world’s first floating wind farm is being opened today in waters off the northeast coast of Scotland.
The £210 million development, which will be opened by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is a partnership between Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable power company, and Norwegian energy giant Statoil.
It is estimated that the project, located about 15 miles off the shore of Peterhead, will provide 20,000 homes with electricity.
Floating turbines have been installed on about 2.5 square miles (four sq km) of water in the North Sea, where the average wind speed is about 10 metres per second.
Speaking ahead of the official opening, Nicola Sturgeon said: “Scotland has developed an international reputation for modern, renewable energy technologies and Hywind Scotland – the world’s first floating wind farm – is testament to that.
“Last month I set out our Programme for Government which made firm commitments to create a cleaner and greener Scotland, and the development of renewable energy is vital to achieve this.
“This pilot project underlines the potential of Scotland’s huge offshore wind resource and positions Scotland at the forefront of the global race to develop the next generation of offshore wind technologies.
“In addition to the green benefits of renewable energy, it also has a very significant contribution to make to our economy.
“I’m pleased Scottish suppliers have contributed to the Hywind project from the development through to the production phase and are still involved to investigate long-term potential for floating wind.”
She added; “This has been possible through the unique support which we have made available in Scotland.”
Environmental campaigners also welcomed the opening, which marks a world first in green energy.
Gina Hanrahan, acting head of policy at WWF Scotland said: “With around a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind resource in Scotland, it’s great to see the world’s first floating wind farm inaugurated off our coast.
“Offshore wind is already an industrial success story across the UK, cutting emissions, creating jobs and dramatically driving down costs.
“By demonstrating the commercial viability of floating wind, Scotland can help to develop the industry in new frontiers and deeper waters.
“With this kind of innovation and investment, and continued political support, Scotland will continue to power towards our target of securing half of all our energy needs from renewable sources by 2030.”
Commenting, Claire Mack, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “Hywind’s presence in Scottish waters is a reminder that, as the windiest country in Europe, and with some of the deepest waters and most promising offshore wind sites, Scotland is perfectly placed to capitalise on floating turbine technology.
“Our unique offshore supply chain and the skillset it supports put us at the forefront of the deployment of these innovative machines.
“That deployment, through sites like Hywind and the Kincardine project further south will help lower costs for this young sector, increasing the opportunity for Scotland to take advantage of a significant future global market.”
Bader Al Lamki, executive director for clean energy at Masdar, said that Hywind Scotland “represents the next stage in the evolution of the offshore wind industry”.
Giles Dickson, chief executive of European wind industry advocacy body WindEurope, said the launch of Hywind Scotland “clearly shows that the technology is well past the R&D stage” and could provide “serious additionality” to the region’s offshore wind build-out.
“Floating offshore wind is now a viable technology and ready to be rolled out on an industrial scale,”
Paul Wheelhouse, MSP took to Twitter to praise the project tweeting: “This project is a World first and is hugely important step in demonstrating to investors the potential of floating wind in our deeper waters.”
About the windfarm
The project will power over 20.000 homes and is the first of its kind.
Including the blades, the tower is just under 600ft and weighs 11,500 tonnes
The turbines can operate in water up to a kilometre deep