Congratulations to the people who live north of Hadrian's Wall. Your country’s seas are about to become the proud guardians of the world’s largest floating wind farm.
The Guardian reports that Norwegian company Statoil has been awarded a seabed lease for construction of its Hywind Scotland wind farm, which is set to go float roughly 15 miles off the eastern coast of the country. The project has been in the works for some time, but the leasing agreement, announced Monday, means that construction can now proceed. The lease was granted by The Crown Estate, an independent organisation that handles some of the Royal Family’s property. It noted that “preliminary on-shore and near-shore works” would ramp up this year, while the turbines themselves will be installed in 2017.
The farm will feature five six-megawatt turbines, which Statoil claims will power about 20,000 households. The company has had a single turbine floating around off the coast of Norway since 2009, but according to Bloomberg, the Hywind Scotland project will be the first multi-turbine project.
The benefit of floating wind turbines is significant. As the Guardian points out, standing offshore wind turbines run into cost-related problems at depths of more than 130 feet. Floating wind turbines like Statoil’s, however, can operate at depths of more than 300 feet, because they’re not attached to the sea floor. Each turbine is moored to a steel tube that has a ballast attached to the sea bed, allowing them to float.
Though the Hywind Scotland project appears to be one of the more promising floating wind farms out there, there’s no shortage of them currently in the works. Another floating turbine—the largest in the world—launched in 2015 near Fukushima, Japan, and in 2011, another bobbing energy producer farm is set to go up off the coast of Portugal in 2018.
The floating farms are seen as another possible alternative energy source, and most of us will likely become more familiar with them when our planet’s unquenchable thirst for fossil fuels eventually overpowers its supply.