Hexicon AB has formally announced the Dounreay Trì floating wind project, to be located off the coast of Dounreay in Scotland. The project will consist of a single semi-submersible platform and two wind turbines with a total capacity of between 8 and 12 MW. The technology is designed so that the floating offshore platform aligns with the wind direction, and therefore maximizes the energy yield for the turbines. The scoping report is now in the pre-application phase, and plans are for it to become operational in the summer of 2018.
Meanwhile, work is expected to commence this year at Statoil’s 30MW floating wind pilot project, which will be located 30 km off the coast of Peterhead in Aberdeenshire. It will consist of an array of 6MW turbines and operate in waters of over 100m deep. Statoil pointed to supportive government policies as being instrumental in bringing about investment in the scheme, such as enhanced levels of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) for floating wind. Under the Renewables Obligation Scotland (ROS), floating wind can obtain a grace period of 18 months, after the RO officially closes to new capacity next year, taking the deadline to 30th September 2018. In addition, the technology can obtain an enhanced level of support at 3.5 ROCs per MWh generated.
Last year, the Scottish government commissioned a study by the Carbon Trust, which considered the commercial opportunities for floating wind around the Scottish coast. The technology is attractive because as more offshore wind is installed, the relatively accessible shallow sites near shore are used up, resulting in wind farms being built further from the shore in deeper water, which brings technical challenges and increased costs. Floating wind technology provides a solution by making use of deep water sites close to shore. Near shore deep water sites are particularly located around the coast of Scotland and Wales, which also benefit from higher wind speeds. Scotland benefits from already having the logistics in place to support the oil and gas industry, which could be beneficial in supporting a floating wind industry.
Floating wind is yet to be demonstrated on a large scale, but the Carbon Trust’s view is that it could operate at cost parity with fixed base wind by 2020 and operate at a cost of less than £100/MWh. Their research was based on a range of 33 different floating wind concepts, most of which were semi-submersibles that are anchored to the seabed while they float. The report identified three dominant types of floating wind structures, with each having different attributes suitable for different site conditions. Further details on the range of technologies being researched can be found in the full report, “Floating Offshore Wind: a Market and Technology Review”.
Other countries investing in floating wind include Japan and the United States. Japan already has three floating concepts in place, and in the United States, a pilot project is being developed in Oregon, known as WindFloat Pacific.
Statistics from RenewableUK show that total offshore wind capacity in the UK currently stands at just over 5GW, made up of 28 projects and 1,465 turbines. This provides almost 15 TWh of electricity annually. Industry projections are for this to be doubled by 2020. As the shallow water sites close to shore are used up, floating wind provides an opportunity to utilise deeper waters so that the industry can continue to develop.
Written By – Nikki Wilson