I am very fortunate to visit the first demonstration scale (<100 MW) floating wind farm (Hywind Scotland Pilot Park) in the world in August of 2018. There are five 6 MW wind turbines about 25 km from shore off Peterhead in Scotland. On the day of our site visit, the weather was so calm that the wind turbines did not operate. Despite this, it is amazing to see these 178-m tall turbines in short distance. I could barely feel their movement on water and could not see cables and anchoring of their foundations underwater.
Its launch makes a landmark which can demonstrate the viability of a commercial scale wind farm in near future. Although air flows from different directions in this region, its fast speed generates more power than initial assessments. The capacity factor can reach up to more than 60% in winter months, which is much higher than that of land-based wind turbines. The surveys taken between pre-construction and post-construction would shed more light on the impact of deep-water wind farms on the environment and commercial activities like fishing and the benefits for local communities. It paves the way for more efficient and comprehensive marine planning and development. Moreover, its cutting-edge technology and industry experiences can be leveraged and adjusted to other regions.
Following the Hywind project, the second demonstration-scale floating wind project, Kincardine, is under development off Aberdeen in Scotland. It is located only 15 km from shore and can be seen on land with binoculars under a clear day. There is an increasing trend of deep water wind farms as shallow near-shore sites are exhausted and floating foundation technology becomes advanced.