Just days after Danish energy provider Dong announced it had signed off plans to build the world's largest offshore wind farm comes news of another milestone in the UK's push for renewable energy. The Scottish Government has confirmed it has given consent to another Scandinavian company, Norway's Statoil, to build Britain's first floating wind farm. A park consisting of five 6MW turbines will be installed off the coast of Peterhead, eclipsing Japan's single 7MW turbine to become the world's largest offshore wind development.
According to officials, the farm will generate 135GWh of electricity each year, enough to power 19,900 houses. Where traditional turbines are built into the sea bed, the Hywind turbines are placed on top of a ballasted steel cylinder that is anchored to the sea floor using three anchored mooring lines. This makes it easier to install them in deep water. Norway became host to the world's first full-scale floating turbine in 2009, but Statoil is now ready to expand its footprint with a pilot park off the mid-eastern shores of Scotland.
But why floating turbines? According to Carbon Trust, it's all about cost. It believes that floating developments have the potential to "reduce generating costs to below £100/MWh" in commercial environments. However, concepts like Statoil's Hywind are already driving down costs to between £85-£95MWh.