The world’s first floating windfarm has taken to the seas. Two turbines were floated this week, increasing the number to five. Located 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.
Offshore windfarms are springing up across the North Sea for a reason – its waters are uniquely shallow enough to allow turbines to be mounted atop steel poles fixed to the seabed. Such fixed-bottom turbines can only be installed at water depths down to 40 metres. As well as opening up new frontiers such as the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, floating windfarms could be placed farther out to sea to avoid the sort of aesthetic objections that scuppered a £3.5bn windfarm off the Dorset coast.
The economic and environmental impact of offshore wind is to be studied as part of a multimillion pound research programme based in Aberdeen Bay.
The centre is run by Swedish power company Vattenfall. The three million euro (£2.6m) offshore wind research programme is thought to be the largest of its kind. Vattenfall, which is wholly owned by the Swedish government, said the programme would also put Scotland at the forefront of research and development in the industry.
Ministers have granted permission for a major tidal energy park off the coast of Islay. The 30-turbine West Islay Tidal Energy Park has been approved at a site about three miles off the southwest coast of the island in Argyll and Bute.
The DP Marine Energy Limited development will have a generating capacity of up to 30MWh – enough to power the equivalent of 18,000 homes.