The world’s first floating wind farm is exceeding expectations and is outperforming average wind power plants based on shore by far. As a result, there are already plans to build a new version of the wind farm over a larger area and with more capacity.
The world’s first floating wind farm, named Hywind, was built off the coast of Norhern Scotland, and is planned to supply renewable energy to about 20,000 households in the country. However, it is outperforming expectations, and investors are already looking into a major expansion of the project.
The floating wind farm is located 25 kilometres offshore near Aberdeen, and is made up of five turbines with a total capacity of 30 MW. Norwegian oil company Statoil and Abu Dhabi-based green energy company Masdar spent a total of USD 263 million to build Hywind. The investment seems to be paying off though, and the wind farm generated at an average of 65 percent of capacity between October and January, its first full quarter, highly exceeding expectations. For comparison, the typical capacity factor for a bottom fixed offshore wind farm is around 45-60%.
It is also promising that the wind farm withstood extremely strong winds and waves in excess of 8.2 metres, so we can probably say that these are quite rugged structures. Floating offshore wind is seen to have great potential, knowing that up to 80 percent of offshore wind resources globally are in deep waters where traditional bottom fixed installations cannot be safely built. Floating wind farms could offer a perfect solution and help to harness an even bigger part of renewable energy sources.
Expansion of the technology is now certain, as construction of the first floating wind farm will start soon in the US as well, and the tried and tested technology is set to quickly conquer the world.