Hywind Scotland, one year on - how is the first floating wind farm doing?
- Posted on October 30, 2018
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Wind has always been a viable source of renewable energy, but 2016 saw a surge of investment in this energy source, due to the development of floating offshore floating wind farms.
Thanks to an amazing technological development, these floating farms were able to offset many of the limitations of previous generations of turbine, by using an underwater ballast alongside mooring lines to stay upright.
The first wind farm in the world to use this tech is Hywind Scotland, a collection of five floating turbines 24 km off the coast of Peterhead. Hywind Scotland started generating power in October 2017, so one year later, how is the wind farm doing, and has it been a success?
What is so unique about Hywind Scotland?
Hywind Scotland is a potentially game changing project for renewable energy, as by removing the need for turbines to be anchored to the ocean floor, wind farms can be established further from the shore and in deeper water.
Traditionally, fixed turbines have a limit of 40 metres, while floating turbines can be deployed at depths of anywhere between 100 to 700 metres, opening up a host of potential locations that were previously off limits for wind farms.
In addition to this obvious benefit, Hywind Scotland also utilised larger turbines, which increased the amount of energy able to be generated, offering a far higher capacity. The innovative wind farm was projected to provide enough energy for over 20,000 homes.
How has it done?
The short answer to this question is: very well. In February it was reported that Hywind Scotland had performed better than expected during its three months in full operation, averaging a capacity factor of about 65% during November, December and January.
The capacity factor is a measurement of how efficiently a wind turbine is performing, which is calculated by dividing the average power generated by the peak rated power. The measurement of 65% for Hywind Scotland is considerably better than other wind farms in the UK, which average between 30 and 40%.
Even more impressively, these numbers occurred despite two major storms during this time period. Hurricane Ophelia in October and storm Caroline in early December will have negatively impacted on these results, as wind turbines shut down during extreme winds.
This is particularly encouraging, with Statoil - the company behind Hywind Scotland - noting that the turbines resumed operation quickly after these extreme weather events.
The success of Hywind Scotland has demonstrated the viability of this type of technology, further boosting the interest in wind power, with more wind farms of this type on the way.
One such project is the £2.6 billion Beatrice Offshore Windfarm, which is being installed around 13 km off the east Caithness coast. This project is considerably bigger than Hywind, with 84 turbines being fitted to power some 450,000 homes. The project is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2019.
In its first year, Hywind Scotland has undoubtedly had a big impact, with many more floating wind farms likely to be inspired by the success of this ambitious project.