A Floating Wind Farm

With a focus shifting towards global sustainability, more effort is being put into improving the efficiency of renewable energy technologies. Wind energy is a predominant area of interest and now it takes on a new twist.


In July 2015, we published an article on the different ways to make a wind turbine float. Many pilot projects have been conducted to test which ones were the most effective. Statoil was the first company to makes significant strides in the area, and now that they have refined their design, a new project is about to set sail.


The Hywind Park has recently been approved to develop the world’s first, and largest, floating wind farm. The ocean off the coast of Scotland will soon be welcoming five floating six-megawatt turbines, anchored 24-35km from land, in waters over 100m deep.


Although there are numerous advantages to a bunch of bobbing windmills, it certainly comes with many challenges. To survive the corrosive salt water, special coatings need to be applied. Additionally, all generated energy needs to be connected to the grid, which is not as evident when at sea. However, once everything is in place, the setup is far easier than a fixed offshore wind farm, which requires a far more delicate configuration.


With the general complaint that “wind turbines are obtrusive” now irrelevant, as offshore wind farms are invisible to most people, the size of the turbine can be significantly increased. The floating turbines will have a height of 258m, enabling them power roughly 20,000 homes when combined.


Although they are around eight times more expensive than land-based wind turbines and still pose a risk to birds, their increased efficiency and flexibility are significant advantages. Having a wind farm at sea could be a promising step in the right direction for renewable wind technologies.


– Nicolas Ruitenbeek