What’s interesting about this project is that it opens up a serious amount of ocean real estate to wind farms, given that current fixed wind turbines are really only mountable to a depth of 40m, whereas the ballast used in the floating arrangement permits depths between 100 and 700m. Suddenly, wind farms on North America’s west coast look far more achievable.
The world’s first floating windfarm has taken to the seas in a sign that a technology once confined to research and development drawing boards is finally ready to unlock expanses of ocean for generating renewable power.
After two turbines were floated this week, five now bob gently in the deep waters of a fjord on the western coast of Norway ready to be tugged across the North Sea to their final destination off north-east Scotland.
The £200m Hywind project is unusual not just because of the pioneering technology involved, which uses a 78-metre-tall underwater ballast and three mooring lines that will be attached to the seabed to keep the turbines upright. It is also notable because the developer is not a renewable energy firm but Norway’s Statoil, which is looking to diversify away from carbon-based fuels.