Offshore wind farms have been in operation for years, with gigantic farms covering the shallow waters of quite a number of countries by now, providing green electricity to thousands of homes. Although these farms do generate quite a large amount of power, wind energy specialists argue that the maximum efficiency of wind turbines is still not reached. The reason for this, they say, is because the farms are not placed in areas with optimal wind conditions.
For some years now, engineers have been experimenting with placing wind turbines in deep waters, where, instead of securing them to the ground, they connect them with wires and let them float. Initial tests performed on small scale floating wind farms showed great potential, and promised that further away from the shore line, the energy production is much greater.
The first to take on the challenge and show the world that this is really true, are the Norwegian company Statoil. The guys just announced that they received the approval to build the first of this size, floating wind farm off the coast of Scotland.
The wind farm, called Hywind, will consist of the modest five floating 6 MW wind turbines, which will be placed approximately 30 km off the coast, in waters deeper than 100 meters, and connected with wires. Now, compared to what currently existing offshore wind farms are generating, the amount of power coming from Hywind will not be that impressive, but considering that it is a pilot project, the guys from Statoil get all the thumbs up.
This project has the aim to demonstrate the feasibility of such farms and hopefully give enough evidence that floating wind farms should be encouraged. The construction of Hywind is supposed to begin next year and be finalized by 2017.
According to predicted estimates, floating turbines have the potential to generate between 8 and 16 GW in the UK in about 30 years from now. This will ultimately mean that the price of electricity could drop significantly.
Image (c) Statoil