What it is?
The Scottish government in conjunction with oil and gas giant Statoil shall build the world’s largest floating wind energy farm in Scottish seas. The Hywind Scotland project will comprise of five 6MW floating turbines interconnected with cables and anchored to the ocean floor in order to generate enough energy to power approximately 20,000 homes. The project differs from that of conventional offshore wind farms in that it utilizes a three-point mooring spread and anchoring system from which power is sent from the pilot farm to the shore station at Peterhead in Scotland.
How it will help?
Wind energy, and floating wind farms in particular, still being in the nascent stage represent a “new, significant, and increasingly competitive renewable energy source” according to Statoil’s executive vice-president for new energy solutions Irene Rummelhoff. Statoil aims to develop the pilot park project in order to demonstrate a commercially viable, utility-scale floating wind solution that will hopefully increase the global market potential. The project stakeholders and orchestrators believe that the development of floating offshore wind could be a potential gamechanger for the industry. Some noteworthy ramifications in particular are as follows:
- Carbon Trust research shows that floating wind projects could potentially reduce energy generating costs for offshore developments to below $129MWh, with larger concepts such as Hywind producing even lower costs of $109-122MWh. Currently the global average levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for offshore projects is $145MWh.
- Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) reported that floating offshore wind could be a credible, cost-effective form of low-carbon energy for the UK by the mid-2020’s.
As momentum builds around floating wind farm energy the major two obstacles to navigate in the coming years will be government policy that can incorporate such energy and reducing the cost of producing electricity relative to other forms on the market. Other countries such as Norway, Japan, the US, and the UK have also begun similar projects but they are still at early development stages. The further development of these projects in deeper water will rely heavily on massive investments as well as leveraging existing infrastructure and supply-chain capabilities from the offshore oil and gas industry. It will therefore take another 5-10 years before projects like these can be truly commercially viable and implementable.