Norwegian energy giant Statoil sells 25 per cent stake in world’s first floating wind farm project off coast of Scotland
Statoil has agreed to sell a 25 per cent stake in its Hywind pilot project to build the world’s first floating wind farm off the east coast of Scotland to leading green energy investor Masdar, it announced today.
The deal will see the Abu Dhabi-based renewable energy investment giant come on board as a strategic partner in the Hywind Scotland project, covering a quarter of previous and future costs. The Norwegian oil giant, meanwhile, will retain a 75 per cent stake in the project.
The pilot park is set to power approximately 20,000 homes once it comes online from late 2017.
Advocates of floating wind farms predict they can help reduce costs by avoiding the need for fixed foundations, curbing operations and maintenance requirements, and opening up deeper water areas for development that boast more reliable winds.
Irene Rummelhoff, Statoil’s executive vice president for new energy solutions, said she hoped the collaboration agreement with Masdar – which will also enable the two firms to work together on clean energy technologies across several markets – would result in “future value creation opportunities for both parties”.
“The Hywind Scotland pilot park has the potential to open attractive new markets for renewable energy production worldwide,” she said. “With Masdar onboard as a strong strategic partner we are teaming up with a company with high ambitions within renewable energy.”
Situated around 25km offshore from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, the Hywind project is set to cover an area of around four square kilometres where the average wind speed is reportedly around 10 metres per second.
Consisting of five 6MW turbines, the floating wind farm will be deployed at depths of 95-120 metres – deeper water than any previous offshore wind turbines around the coast of the UK, according to Statoil.
The substructures for the development have been constructed in Spain and will be assembled in Norway this summer before being shipped off to Peterhead.
Rummelhoff explained that the Hywind pilot park was aimed at demonstrating cost efficient and low risk solutions for future, commercial-scale floating wind farms.
“We expect floating offshore wind farms to benefit from the general cost development within the offshore wind segment,” she said. “This will further increase the global market potential for offshore wind energy, contributing to realising Statoil’s ambition of profitable growth in renewable energy and other low-carbon solutions.”
The news came on the same day as the UK’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) urged for a greater focus on floating wind platform development in order to access the best offshore wind resources and drive costs down across the industry.
After 10 years of research, development and demonstration into offshore wind, ETI said its analysis showed fixed foundations in waters less than 30 metres deep offered the most cost-effective solution, but that floating foundations were the best option in waters more than 50 metres deep.
The ETI also called for more development work to produce bigger, more durable blades that can be assembled closer to offshore sites in order to further reduce operational costs.
While larger blades make a difference to the cost of energy, ETI explained that without manufacturing and material improvements longer blades will be heavier, which can negate other performance benefits.
Assembling blades and offshore wind farm infrastructure closer to their deployment locations could therefore make a material difference to the operational cost of offshore wind, according to ETI.
Andrew Scott, ETI offshore renewables programme manager, said offshore wind costs had come down by around 50 per cent over the last decade and that the sector could have a significant role in the UK’s energy mix.
But, he added: “The industry needs to increase its practical experience through even further deployment, development and demonstration of new technologies and learn from this to contain operational costs.”
Also this week, meanwhile, the Carbon Trust has launched a series of tenders to assess technology challenges associated with floating offshore wind.
The studies are part of a joint industry project supported by the Scottish Government, DONG Energy, E.ON, Eolfi, innogy and Statoil, to better understand the anticipated risks and opportunities of developing floating wind farms at commercial scale.
Projects include assessments of electrical systems, mooring systems, and logistical challenges in large arrays of floating wind turbines, according to the Carbon Trust.