Off the coast of Aberdeenshire, a company called Statoil has built the world’s first floating wind farm, Hywind Scotland. According to EcoWatch, though the farm has only been in operation for three months, it is already exceeding expectations in terms of energy production.
The plant has a maximum theoretical capacity, and produced 65 percent of that capacity in the months of November, December and January. In comparison, plants based on shore produced between 45 and 60 percent of their theoretical capacity during the same time period. Beate Myking, senior vice president of offshore wind operations in Statoil, thinks this is an encouraging sign, as Hywind was facing unique challenges as a floating wind farm, including a hurricane, eight-foot waves, and winter storms.
« We have tested the Hywind technology in harsh weather conditions for many years and we know it works, » said Myking. « 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. »
Offshore wind farms are generally installed in shallow waters off the coast, but this experiment shows that there is potential for establishing wind farms via floating system off the coasts of places that have a steep drop off in water depth. Though the process has been experimented with before, it was always at a much smaller scale. Hywind has five turbines that each produce 6 megawatts. They’re floating over waters that are 328 feet deep.
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