The first full scale floating wind farm is being implemented off the coast of Scotland, which is made up of five turbines in total, and measuring 253 meters in height. The small wind farm is anticipated to generate 30MW of electricity, which is enough to supply 20,000 UK homes. The wind farm will be fully operational by October this year, if all goes to plan.
The wind turbines are conventional in appearance, however they will be tethered to the ground by three suction anchors each, and will be held upright by a substructure made of ballast and water.
The floating wind farm technology enables the UK to take advantage of windier conditions further out at sea, where traditional wind turbines cannot be implemented. Conventional wind farms structures can only be planted in shallow waters, of less than fifty meters in depth. Meanwhile, floating wind turbines can be implemented in water as deep as one kilometre. The new technology opens up more options for wind farm installations, in deeper waters off the coast of the UK as well as many other countries across the globe. Thoughts have already been raised about constructing floating wind farms off the west coast of America, as well a around Japan where waters are generally much deeper than on the UKSC where many conventional wind farms already exist and generate.
If these floating wind farms can be implemented in deeper waters, then debates over concerns for disrupted wildlife and picturesque coastal views become less valid. Plus many reports suggest that the further out to sea, the windier the conditions, and as such are perfect for optimum generation.
Sources: Financial Times, BBC News, the Independent, Energy Live, News, Statoil