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Statoil to develop floating windfarm off north-east Scotland

16 May 2016

Norwegian energy group Statoil has been awarded a seabed lease to develop the world's largest floating wind farm over the Buchan Deep, around 25km off the Scottish port of Peterhead. The planned Hywind project comprises five 6MW turbines, each on a floating steel tube containing ballast which is tethered to the sea bed.

A prototype Hywind generator off the coast of Norway: Image - StatoilHydro
A prototype Hywind generator off the coast of Norway: Image - StatoilHydro

The project secured consent from Marine Scotland last October and has now been granted a seabed lease by the Crown Estate. The move means preliminary on-shore and near-shore works will commence later this year. Deployment of the turbine will then begin in 2017, with first power being generated towards the end of the year, the Crown Estate said.

Floating wind turbines need not be situated in shallow water, unlike existing offshore wind generators which stand on concrete and steel foundations driven into the ocean floor, and can be positioned to take advantage of the strongest winds on the planet. More than 40 projects around the world are in various stages of development.

The UK government previously said the development of new wind farms post-2020 is dependent on the industry bringing down the cost of power to below £100/MWh. Advocates of floating wind farms predict they can help reduce costs by avoiding the need for fixed foundations and curbing operations and maintenance expenditure.

"We are very pleased to develop this project in Scotland, in a region with a huge wind resource and an experienced supply chain from oil and gas," said Hywind Scotland project director, Leif Delp.

Ronnie Quinn, general manager for the Crown Estate, which manages the lease of the seabed, said the organisation had been "working closely with Statoil, Scottish Government and other partners to help bring forward this innovative project, which helps consolidate the position of Scotland and the UK as a global leader in the offshore renewables sector".

"Hywind is the first of its kind in the world," he added. "Its successful operation will demonstrate the viability of floating wind turbines in deep water locations and bring forward cost reduction techniques that will move the whole sector forward. By working to share best practice and deploying our expertise in seabed leasing, we've been able to support the development of emerging technologies, from floating wind to tidal current energy, placing Scotland in a very strong position to secure global investment in low carbon energy."

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