The Hywind project has recently come online off the coast of Aberdeenshire, potentially providing sufficient power for over 20,000 properties. What makes Hywind particularly notable, though, is that it is the world’s first floating windfarm. Traditional wind turbines are built on the seabed, so they are generally limited to relatively shallow waters.
The new floating turbines stand 175 meters above sea level, almost as high as London’s BT tower, with a further 78 meters beneath the sea that is tethered to the seabed with cables. The project was developed by Statoil, Norway’s state energy company, who says the new turbines could be located in waters up 800 meters deep, potentially opening up new areas with greater average wind speeds.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish First Minister, officially opened Hywind as she flew over it on Wednesday. Speaking about the project, she said it:
“underlines the potential of Scotland’s huge offshore wind resource and positions Scotland at the forefront of the global race to develop the next generation of offshore wind technologies”
Offshore wind power has become a popular choice in the UK, partly because potentially cheaper onshore projects are currently prevented from bidding for government subsidies. That said, in the most recent reverse auctions for subsidies, the winning offshore wind projects came in much cheaper than expected. In addition to developing floating wind turbines and increasing scale, advances in lubrication, such as those offered by Mobil UK distributors, offer equipment protection and long oil life, even in harsh marine environments.