Floating Offshore Wind Turbines Are Another Clean Energy Option

Image: Øyvind Gravås / Statoil

The fifth and final floating wind turbine has been secured off the coast of Scotland in a trial that will power 20,000 homes. The Hywind project is the result of more than 15 years of work from Norwegian energy firm Statoil. It's yet another clean energy technology being shown off at a time when Australia signals a move away from previous clean energy goals.

As Australia shifts its focus away from clean energy, Scotland is proudly moving forward with new renewable technologies.

The trial wind farm, known as Hywind, is located 25km from Peterhead on Scotland's east coast.

Norwegian energy firm Statoil, who operate a number of offshore wind farms across the UK, developed the technology for the floating turbines. The turbines, each weighing 10,500 tonnes and measuring 253m from blade tip to base, were constructed in Norway and then shipped to the Scottish coast for installation.

Existing offshore wind farms are tethered to the seabed at depths of approximately 50m, while the Hywind turbines are currently floating in waters up to 129m deep, with the potential to work in depths of up to 800m. With 80 per cent of potential offshore wind sites in depths of more than 60m, this technology opens the door for governments around the world to build wind farms in locations that were previously unfeasible.

The £190 million ($319,732,000) cost was subsidised by bill-payers under the UK government's Renewable Obligation Certificates. "I think eventually we will see floating wind farms compete without subsidy - but to do that we need to get building at scale," said Leif Delp, project director for Hywind.

The cost of bottom-secured offshore wind farms has dropped by 32 per cent since 2012, far beyond expectations and four years ahead of the UK government's target price.

Statoil collaborated with Abu Dhabi firm Masdar to provide battery storage for the wind farm to mitigate intermittency and optimise output for the Peterhead wind farm.

Australian firm Offshore Energy announced plans in June to develop a non-floating offshore wind farm off the coast of Gippsland — apparently discussions with the Australian government are still ongoing. [BBC]

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