World’s Largest Floating Wind Farm Development Kicks Off

Hywind Scotland Pilot Park is to demonstrate a commercial, utility-scale floating wind solution to further increase the global market potential.
Published: Wed 10 Feb 2016

Scotland continues to push ahead with its clean energy plans as it aims for 100% renewables by 2025. The country certainly has the resources to carry this out, backed by a government eager to go clean. Scotland is already the renewable energy champion of the UK, with nearly 40%  of its energy coming from renewable sources.  

Wind power alone has the potential to generate 126% of the energy needed to power every Scottish home, according to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF).

It is for this reason that Scotland was chosen by energy company Statoil to build the world’s largest floating offshore wind farm named the Hywind Scotland Pilot Park. The 30MW wind farm will be developed off the coast of Peterhead with construction beginning this year.

Statoil has awarded Nexans a €10.2 million contract to service the wind farm. Nexans will deliver cables to the site, located 30km off the coast of Aberdeenshire. The offshore cable systems will be tested, sealed off, prepared for pull-in and delivered in individual lengths ready for installation. The cables will be tested and manufactured at Nexans' specialized facility in Halden, Norway, before completing delivery by the end of 2017.

Hywind Scotland Pilot Park wind farm

Last year, the Scottish government granted consent for the 30MW floating farm which will be made up of five wind turbine generators connected through an inter-array cable network before feeding into a single export cable carrying energy back to land in Peterhead.

The farm will generate green energy to power approximately 20,000 homes, and will lead the way to developing larger floating wind farms in other areas after an initial two-year testing period. The project will also help the Scottish government realize its commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2020.

The region was chosen for its optimal wind conditions and its strong supply chain within oil and gas and supportive public policies.

The project is to demonstrate technological improvements, installation and operation of multiple floating wind turbines, as well as examine the cost efficiency of the park configuration.

The development differs from conventional offshore wind farms in that it is using turbines which are attached to the seabed by a three-point mooring spread and anchoring system. The turbines are interconnected by cables, one of which exports electricity from the pilot farm to the shore at Peterhead.

Global market potential 

Research from the Carbon Trust suggests that floating wind concepts could potentially reduce generating costs for offshore developments to below £100/MWh, with larger concepts such as Hywind producing even lower costs of £85-95/MWh. Currently the global average levelised cost of electricity for offshore projects is £112/MWh.

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) released a report indicating that floating offshore wind could be a credible, cost-effective form of low-carbon energy for the UK by the mid-2020s.

Swedish floating wind developer Hexicon is also throwing support behind the cost competitiveness of floating offshore developments. Hexicon’s international business development director Maurice Jenkens says it’s a matter of time before a tipping point is reached. “The technology is relatively new and still requires massive investment but it will inevitably happen.”

Floating wind represents a new, significant and increasingly competitive renewable energy source. Statoil’s objective with developing this pilot park is to demonstrate a commercial, utility-scale floating wind solution, in order to further increase the global market potential.

Further reading

Energy Technologies Institute-Offshore Wind [pdf]