The world’s first floating wind farm has been officially opened by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Located 15 miles from Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Hywind Scotland has already begun delivering electricity to the Scottish grid network. In time, it is estimated that it will produce enough electricity to power 20,000 homes across the country.
The project has been ongoing for fifteen years and was managed by Statoil, a Norwegian firm which specialises in finding alternatives to carbon-based fuels in the energy sector.
The advantage of a floating wind farm – where the bottom of the turbine is anchored to the seabed with specially constructed cables – is the depth which individual turbines can reach. The project off the Aberdeenshire coast reaches a depth of 129 metres, while conventional wind farms tend to reach a depth of around fifty metres. What’s more, wind speeds are generally higher and more predictable offshore than on land, making for ideal conditions to meet the high-energy needs of coastal towns – a particularly pertinent advantage in Scotland, Europe’s ‘windiest country’.
Coming just months after the opening of the Queensferry Crossing, the project is also an impressive engineering feat. The First Minister noted on twitter that each turbine is four times the height of Edinburgh’s Scott Monument, or three times the height of New York’s Statue of Liberty.
After visiting Hywind, Ms Sturgeon commented that the project affirms the viability of Scotland’s offshore energy resources, and puts the country “at the forefront of the global race to develop the next generation of offshore wind technologies”. Indeed, sustainability is equally of importance to Experience Scotland. Alongside our continuing partnership with WeForest, we are the only DMC in the UK to be ISO14001 certified – a leading international recognition of ecological corporate practice. Investing in renewable energy sources such as Hywind is therefore not merely a symbolic gesture, but a necessary step towards safeguarding the health of Scotland’s environment.
Image: Middelgrunden offshore wind farm, Kim Hansen