It sounds like other five-turbine, 30 megawatt offshore wind “pilot projects” sprouting around the globe, but Statoil’s Hywind Scotland will be different.
The estimated $234 million project will mount five 6-megawatt machines on floating, ballasted masts with a three-point anchoring system to the sea floor. The site is in the Buchan Deep in the North Sea, about 15 miles off Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, in depths of 300’ to 400’, according to Statoil.
The Norwegian energy company predicts using the floating masts will bring costs down by 60% to 70% per megawatt, major savings over the expense of building sea floor foundations for turbines – and potentially open up other deepwater sites around the world. The government in Scotland gave a final go-ahead Monday and Statoil said it would initiate the investment.
Scotland is an ideal location, with its robust support and supply chains for the offshore energy industry, Statoil officials said. The floating machines will be modeled on a prototype that has been operating for six years near the island of Karmoy in Norway.
“Our objective with the Hywind pilot park is to demonstrate the feasibility of future commercial, utility-scale floating wind farms. This will further increase the global market potential for offshore wind energy, contributing to realizing our ambition of profitable growth in renewable energy and other low-carbon solutions,” said Irene Rummelhoff, Statoil’s executive vice president for New Energy Solutions.
In May Statoil said it had set up New Energy Solutions as part of its move to diversify its oil and gas portfolio with profitable renewable energy. Hywind Scotland is the first investment for the new entity, but Statoil has been in the wind business for a few years already.
Statoil was the operator in the development phase for the 88- turbine Sheringham Shoal offshore wind array off the coast of Norfolk that started generating power in 2012. That year Statoil and Statkraft acquired the nearby Dudgeon offshore wind farm project, and Statoil is also a partner in the massive Dogger Bank wind development. All told, Statoil says its offshore wind business in the UK has long term potential to power 4.5 million homes.