Floating windfarms are likely to be the next large-scale development in renewable energy. The first Hywind Scotland, developed by the Norwegian state oil giant, Statoil, has proved a greater success than its designers hoped. The five giant six-megawatt turbines, 25 miles east of Peterhead, produced more power than expected in the first three months and withstood hurricane-force winds and giant waves.
The potential for this technology is hard to overstate. Few countries have shallow continental shelves like the UK to build offshore windfarms on the sea bed, but many have windy sites close to shore where floating windfarms could be anchored to provide power for coastal cities.
It seems odd, then, that just as British firms are seeking to diversify from the struggling North Sea oil industry, the UK government is refusing to extend subsidies to the floating windfarm sector that has so much job creation and export potential. But then this is a government that has already tried to change the tide of history by deliberately obstructing the building of onshore windfarms just when they became the cheapest form of electricity production – while pouring billions into expensive nuclear power.