The developers of Hywind Scotland, the world’s first commercial-scale floating windfarm, have reported better-than-expected results in the first three months of the project’s operations.
A joint venture between Norway’s Statoil and Abu Dhabi clean energy company Masdar, the 30 MW windfarm located 25 kilometres off the Aberdeenshire coast has been powering around 20,000 households since it was launched last October.
In that time, Masdar says the project has withstood one hurricane, one winter storm and waves as high as 8.2 metres, with production and availability above target in each of the three months from November to January.
The typical capacity factor for an offshore windfarm in winter, when the wind is at its strongest, is 45-60 per cent. Hywind Scotland, however, achieved an average of around 65 per cent: a capacity factor of 100 per cent means all wind turbines are generating their maximum output around the clock.
“These outstanding results illustrate the durability of floating wind technology and its ability to perform safely and above target in the toughest conditions,” said Bader Al Lamki, Executive Director for Clean Energy at Masdar.
“The extremely encouraging performance of Hywind Scotland is positive news for the development of future floating wind projects with our partners, and supports ongoing efforts to improve the cost efficiency of floating wind.”
Hywind Scotland’s first encounter with extreme weather was Hurricane Ophelia last October, when wind speeds of 35 metres a second (m/s) were recorded. Storm Caroline in early December was even stronger, with gusts in excess of 45 m/s (160 km/h) and waves as high as 8.2 metres.
Hywind Scotland’s wind turbines shut down for safety reasons when the storms were at their peak, but resumed operations afterwards automatically. A purpose-built pitch motion controller integrated with the turbine’s control system mitigates excessive movement.
Irene Rummelhoff, Executive Vice-President for New Energy Solutions at Statoil, said: “Knowing that up to 80 per cent of the offshore wind resources globally are in deep waters, where traditional bottom-fixed installations are not suitable, we see great potential for floating offshore wind – in Asia, the west coast of North America and Europe.”
Masdar and Statoil are also developing the battery storage project Batwind, which will store power generated by Hywind Scotland.
Hywind Scotland is Masdar’s second offshore wind project with Statoil, following the 402 MW Dudgeon Offshore windfarm, which was inaugurated last November. Combined with London Array, which remains the world’s largest offshore wind farm in operation, the three projects bring the total capacity of the UK renewable energy projects in which Masdar is an investor to more than 1000 MW.