Words: Alannah Eames Photo: Norsea Group

It’s a fact. It’s getting windier in coastal regions across the globe. And that’s good news for wind power, one of the greenest sources of renewable energy. But, until now, technology for capturing offshore or ‘floating’ wind energy in deep sea waters, has been shaky. All that is set to change with Statoil’s new Hywind Scotland Pilot Park, which is currently under development and will come into operation in 2017.

Skjermbilde 2016-04-25 kl. 16.17.24

The Hywind Scotland Pilot Park will be the first floating wind farm in the UK, located approximately 25 km outside the east cost of Scotland.

The turbines and equipment for this new wind park will be assembled at NorSea Group’s (NSG’s) site at Stord, Norway, where a team of 80 people will be responsible for the assembly and inshore hookup of the five 6-Mgw offshore wind turbines which (including the base) are approximately 170 metres long. At the Stord base, the team will set up a mooring area for the substructures and construct a platform upon which the turbines can be assembled, as well as providing Statoil with all the necessary equipment, storage and assembly areas, accommodation and catering.

“For several years, we have been investigating and looking into possibilities to turn the Stord base into an efficient location for installing offshore wind turbines,” says Kenneth Bjørholm, director marketing and business development at NorSea Group.

“We want to use our expertise, infrastructure and equipment to support the development of the wind power market, especially offshore wind. Our Danish subsidiary, Danbor, in Esbjerg, is our Wind Center of Excellence, responsible for supporting the wind industry with logistics, port services, maintenance and repairs,” adds Bjørholm.

Wind turbine blades hoisted into place Photo: Norsea Group

It’s not the first time NSG has been involved in pioneering and innovative environmental projects like the Hywind Scotland Pilot Park. When Statoil launched its Hywind Demo in 2009 – the technology which is now being used in the pilot park – it was assembled at NSG’s base at Dusavik near Stavanger on the west coast of Norway.

The results, so far, in the Hywind demo project have been excellent, according to Statoil. Now, the next step is to test the technology on a larger scale in deeper waters. Should this 20-year pilot wind farm be a success and prove that the technology can work in deep waters, it will pave the way for larger scale commercial offshore wind farms. Lessons learned during the pilot will also help to make this technology as cost-efficient as possible. This could be the answer for solving the energy needs of parts of the world where wind is a free – and abundant – source of energy.

About the Hywind Scotlond Pilot Park
Located approximately 25 kilometres off the east coast of Scotland, the Hywind Scotland Pilot Park will be the first floating wind farm in the UK. It will consist of five 6 MW, 170-meter high floating turbines in over 100-meter deep waters. Each of the five wind turbine generators will be based on top of a slender ballasted steel cylinder which will be individually moored to the sea bed and connected by cables to the mainland. Communication and control will be by fibre-optics or by radio link. The Hywind technology has already been successfully tested off the Norwegian coast. Construction of the park began in 2016 and it is expected to begin operations in 2017. The park is planned to have an operational lifetime of 20 years.