Statoil’s Hywind Park uses existing oil and gas technology combined with offshore wind expertise.
Each of the five turbines off the coast of Peterhead sits on a spar structure – typically used for ultra-deepwater hydrocarbon projects.
The subsea structures, which act like floating buoys, are held in place by a series of anchor lines that attach to the seabed and hold the turbines in place.
The turbine is 253 metres high from the top of the highest blade to the bottom of the spar ballast, of which 78m is hidden under the surface of the water.
Combining this deepwater oil and gas solution with modern wind turbine technology led to the development of this world first offshore floating windfarm.
Key to the technology is the complex motion compensation system, which was designed in-house by Statoil, and keeps the turbines in place.
The substructures are held in place above the seabed with three mooring lines connected to ‘suction anchors’.
The design allows them to be deployed in waters up to 700 metres deep according to Statoil – more than three times the depth at which current ‘fixed’ foundation turbines can be placed.
This gives greater access to high winds in offshore environments.
If the 30MW project is deemed successful it could be rolled out worldwide as a new way to harness wind power, according to Irene Rummelhoff executive vice president, for Statoil’s New Energy Solutions
She said: “The idea is rather simple but the simple ones tend to be the genius ones.
“The beauty of floating compared to a traditional windfarm is that it can perform in almost all water depths. 80% of the wind resource is in water depths deeper than 60metres that are not suitable for ‘bottom fixed’ offshore wind.
“So we can reach an enormous amount of new wind resource. It also allows us to build bigger parks and to spread out the turbines and hence, get better wind resources.
“It basically opens every coastline in the world to offshore wind.”
She added: “I think this is the start of something very exciting.”