A pioneering world first that could herald a new era for renewable energy generation roared into life yesterday.
Hywind Scotland a £190million five turbine development off the north-east coast is now connected to the electricity grid, generating power for around 20,000 homes.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who got a fly-past the site in a private plane yesterday, said the offshore world first “cemented” Scotland’s place on the global energy stage.
“I don’t think we should underplay just how significant it is to be celebrating a world first here,” she said.
“This is the first floating offshore windfarm in the world. It’s situated here in the north-east of Scotland, off the coast of the Peterhead.
“That is a massive accolade for Aberdeen and the north-east generally, but it also is saying something very powerful about the reputation of not just the north-east but Scotland as a whole in renewables technology.
“This is something we should be really enthusiastic about.”
As the turbines do not require to be fixed to the seabed and instead float above it they can be deployed in seas with greater depths.
The same technique is used in deepwater oil fields like the Gulf of Mexico.
This means windfarms in the future could be deployed further out at sea, where stronger and more persistent winds could be harnessed for energy.
The First Minister added:“This is just one example of world leading renewables technology being deployed in Scotland.
“We are already home to the biggest onshore windfarm in the whole of the UK in Scotland.
“We have the world’s first tidal power array generating electricity in the Pentland Firth and now we have the world’s first offshore windfarm.
“That is all forging a reputation in renewables to match the reputation we’ve built up over the years in oil and gas. That said, oil and gas has a bright future ahead of it.
“It is about making sure that innovation is driving forward the oil and gas reputation, but also using that reputation to help develop renewables as well.
“It’s the cross fertilisation that is the most exciting of all.”
The onshore operations and maintenance base for Hywind Scotland is located in Peterhead, while the operations center is located in Great Yarmouth.
Statoil and partner Masdar will also install Batwind, a 1MWh Lithium battery storage solution for offshore wind energy as part of the Hywind project.
Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse MSP agreed that the windfarm puts Scotland front and centre for energy innovation.
He said: “The offshore floating wind industry has huge potential globally, not just in Scotland but also in areas like the US and Latin America, Japan and Indonesia.
“It is hugely significant that Scotland is a test-bed for such a new development.
“Floating offshore wind can potentially reduce the cost of installation very significantly because of the use of the same techniques as the oil and gas industry. It is also less invasive in terms of the seabed as well.
“Hopefully it’s a win-win for the industry.”
In recent years, there have been significant cost reductions in both the onshore and fixed offshore wind sectors.
Floating wind is expected to follow a similar downward trajectory over the next decade, making it cost competitive with other renewable energy sources.
Sian Wilson of Crown Estate Scotland said: “It’s fantastic to see Hywind Scotland up and running.