World's first floating wind farm put to the test

Norwegian energy major Statoil said its Hywind Scotland facility survived 100 mph winds and 26 foot waves intact.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Feb. 15, 2018 at 6:58 AM
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Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Put to the test with high winds and strong seas, Norway's Statoil said a floating wind farm in Scottish waters shows promise for deepwater installations.

During its first three months in service, the company's Hywind Scotland floating wind farm, the first of its kind, was put to the test and performed better than expected. Hurricane Ophelia in October pummeled the wind farm with 80 mile-per-hour winds and 100 mph winds were recorded two months later during Storm Caroline, which added to the test for the wind farm with 26 foot waves.

Statoil said Hywind closes down during the worst of the weather, but can automatically come back on stream when conditions improve. Special motion control systems, meanwhile, turn the turbine blades to counter potential wind stress.

The company said the design showed it could handle harsh weather conditions, but its actual performance was impressive. Operating at about 65 percent of total design capacity, Statoil said Hywind performed better than its anchored counterparts.

"Knowing that up to 80 percent of the offshore wind resources globally are in deep waters where traditional bottom fixed installations are not suitable, we see great potential for floating offshore wind, in Asia, on the west coast of North America and in Europe," Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president for New Energy Solutions in Statoil, said in a statement.

Statoil said it's planning a battery system that will "learn" to store electricity to compensate for calm conditions at Hywind.

With renewable resources like solar and wind deemed variable because of the nature of their power origins, storage may be a critical issue for future deployments.

For Statoil, the battery component for wind energy adds support to its efforts to complement its oil and gas portfolio with "profitable renewable energy."

Hywind has a design capacity of 30 megawatts. It's located about 15 miles off the Scottish coast and can produce enough energy to service 20,000 average households.

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