Hywind pilot park: the first floating wind farm in the world

November 16, 2015 0 By Amanda Giasson
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The offshore wind farm consists of five wind turbines floating off the coast of Scotland.

The Hywind Scotland pilot park, a 30 MW (megawatt) floating wind farm, is the result of a deal made between the Scottish government and Statoil, a Norwegian oil company, and is claimed to be the first of its kind in the world. The five large turbines that will be placed on floating structures located about 15 miles off the northeast coast of Scotland near Peterhead, will each generate 6 MW of power.

The offshore wind energy project is expected to generate enough power for 20,000 homes.

According to a news report from Gizmag, the Hywind pilot park will cover an area about 1.5 square miles at a water depth of 310 to 395 feet. From its location, the wind farm will be able to take advantage of high North Sea wind speeds of approximately 19 knots.

The Hywind pilot park turbines will be moored to a sole floating cylindrical spar buoy by way of catenary cables. To provide extra tension, the ballasted cateneary adds 60 tons of weight hanging from each anchor cable’s midpoint.

A floating wind farm provides multiple advantages.

One of the notable benefits of using floating wind turbines is that these structures can be placed further away from the coast in deeper water because they don’t need to be anchored to the seafloor. For fixed turbines, the ideal water depth is 65 to 165 feet, but two-thirds of the North Sea waters have depths that reach between 160 and 720 feet.

Furthermore, by being placed further from the shore, this gives the turbines access to winds that are often stronger and more consistent than those close to the coast. These turbines are also not as likely to interfere with shipping or fishing activity, and they can also be strung together in a farm, so they can share common infrastructure. In addition, due to their location, the risk of visual pollution is reduced.

According to Statoil’s executive vice president for New Energy Solutions, Irene Rummelhoff, “Statoil is proud to develop the world’s first floating wind farm. Our objective with the Hywind pilot park is to demonstrate the feasibility of future commercial, utility-scale floating wind farms.”

Production of the floating wind farm is expected to start in late 2017.