Scotland's Floating Wind Farm

You've heard of off-shore drilling, but how about off-shore wind? Scotland is now getting electricity from the world's first floating wind farm, 15 miles off the coast. (Image credit: YouTube)

Scotland's electrical grid has a new contributor: “Hywind Scotland Pilot Park”, a five-turbine wind farm floating 15 miles off the coast from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire. The 30 Megawatt (MW) wind farm is expected to power around 20,000 households.

[T]he new windfarm includes five large (6 MW) wind turbines and is operated by Statoil in partnership with Masdar. Each of these turbines is attached to the ocean floor using “suction anchors” that are more than 50 feet tall and weigh more than 110 tons. As with anchors on any ship, these devices prevent the turbines from straying too far from their original position as they bob with the waves.

The project, finally reaching pilot status after 16 years, is currently heavily subsidized by the British government. But recent downward trends in the costs of other wind-powered technologies could forecast a similar outcome for wind farms, and Statoil's executive vice president, Irene Rummelhoff has high hopes.

“Statoil has an ambition to reduce the costs of energy from the Hywind floating wind farm to € 40-60 € per MWh [$47-40] by 2030. Knowing that up to 80% of the offshore wind resources are in deep waters (+60 meters) where traditional bottom fixed installations are not suitable, floating offshore wind is expected to play a significant role in the growth of offshore wind going forward.”