The world’s first floating wind farm, the 30 megawatt Hywind Scotland, is outperforming expectations and operating at levels consistently above that of its seabound offshore brethren, according to project developer Statoil.
First approved by the Scottish Government back in late 2015, the 30 megawatt (MW) Hywind Scotland floating offshore wind farm is made up of five 6 MW wind turbines floating 25 kilometers off the coast of Peterhead, in Scotland. The project began generating electricity in October of last year.
According to project developer Statoil, a Norwegian multinational oil and gas company, Hywind Scotland isn’t just generating electricity, it’s been doing so at a level that surpasses expectations through its first three full months of production and beating out the average accomplished by bottom fixed offshore wind farms.
It’s important at this point to remember that a wind turbine doesn’t generate 100% of its potential electricity capacity 24 hours, 7 days a week — to do that would require very disturbing wind conditions that pretty much don’t exist anywhere on earth. According to Statoil, wind farms that are affixed to the seafloor generally generate at around 45 to 60% — in other words, they are generating 100% of their potential electricity capacity around 45 to 60% of the time.
Conversely, according to Statoil, during November, December, and January, Hywind Scotland generated at an average of 65% — and has encountered hurricane Ophelia in October, Storm Caroline in early December, and waves in excess of 8.2 meters. Storm Caroline did force the farm to shut down during the worst of the winds for safety reasons, but the turbines automatically resumed operation afterwards.
“We have tested the Hywind technology in harsh weather conditions for many years and we know it works,” said Beate Myking, senior vice president of offshore wind operations in Statoil. “But putting the world’s first floating wind farm into production comes with some excitement. Therefore, it is very encouraging to see how well the turbines have performed so far.
“Hywind Scotland’s high availability has ensured that the volume of electricity generated is substantially higher than expected. In addition, it has delivered without any HSE incidents.”
The importance of these results is more than just representative of the success of Hywind Scotland.
“Knowing that up to 80% of the offshore wind resources globally are in deep waters (+60 meters) where traditional bottom fixed installations are not suitable, we see great potential for floating offshore wind, in Asia, on the west coast of North America and in Europe,” explained Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president for New Energy Solutions in Statoil. “We are actively looking for new opportunities for the Hywind technology.”