The Hywind wind farm off the coast of Aberdeen, northwest Scotland, is getting closer to completion.
So far, one giant turbine has already been moved into place, while four more wait in readiness in a Norwegian fjord. By the end of the month they’ll all have been towed to 15 miles (25km) off Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, where they’ll float upright like giant fishing floats.
The wind farm is seen as an important development for the industry. The technology involved allows wind power to be harvested in waters too deep for the current conventional bottom-standing turbines. The Statoil-owned facility is set to bring power to 20,000 homes.
“This is a tech development project to ensure it’s working in open sea conditions. It’s a game-changer for floating wind power and we are sure it will help bring costs down,” said Leif Delp, Statoil’s project director for Hywind.
While the turbines are currently very expensive to make, Statoil believes that in the future it will be able to dramatically reduce costs in the same way that manufacturers already have for conventional offshore turbines.
The turbines can operate in water up to a kilometre deep and each blade is 75 metres across.
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 Hywind project is being run in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi firm Masdar. The £190m cost was subsidised by bill-payers under the UK government’s Renewable Obligation Certificates.