The Hywind floating windfarm off the coast of Peterhead in Aberdeenshire was the first of its kind when it began production in October 2017, but new data from Norwegian energy company Statoil and Masdar, an Abu Dhabi-based investor and developer, shows its performance has been better than expected.
According to Statoil and Masdar, in the first three months of operation, the windfarm endured waves of up to 8.2 metres high, one hurricane, and a winter storm. It also accomplished a capacity of 65%, which compares well with the typical capacity of 45-60% for an offshore windfarm in winter.
A purpose-built pitch motion controller, built into the turbine’s control system, is partially credited for the superior performance. This reduces the effects of excessive movement and allows the turbines to continue operating in relatively high winds. Even when strong winds do force a safety shutdown, the turbines can automatically power up again when wind speeds drop to safe levels.
This floating technology holds particular potential for regions characterised by deeper water, such as the west coast of America, but installing wind turbines further out at sea brings extra maintenance challenges, which can in part be mitigated by using high-quality lubricants, such as those supplied by Mobil UK distributors, because these can offer excellent equipment protection and long oil life even in the most challenging conditions.
While the Hywind technology is currently more expensive than conventional fixed-bottom windfarms, Statoil and Masdar aim to get generation costs down to €40-60/MWh by 2030, making it competitive with other renewable sources.