The Scottish government is investigating whether it’s possible to build a large floating wind farm off their coast. First Minister Alex Salmond is leading the renewable energy investigation. He met with officials from the Norwegian company Statoil, to see if their Hywind floating turbines are the proper technology for the project.
Scotland is believed to have a very large potential for offshore wind power development. Mr. Salmond said of this potential, “Our waters are estimated to have as much as a quarter of Europe’s potential offshore wind energy and we are perfectly positioned to develop the technology that will power this remarkable renewables revolution.”
One advantage of using offshore wind turbines is wind over water is unobstructed, and can flow faster and steadier than over land. Another advantage is that little or no turbine noise is heard by people on land, as the turbine location is miles offshore. Additionally, in some cases there may be far fewer birds miles out at sea, so offshore turbine bird deaths could be lower.
Currently a 2.3 megawatt floating Hywind turbine is being tested in real world conditions in the North Sea off the coast of Norway. In what was dubbed the Hywind II wind farm project and a Scottish-Norwegian collaboration, the floating wind farm off Scotland could have a 100 megawatt capacity.
Included in the discussion between Mr. Salmond and the Norwegian company was the Scottish government’s Saltire Prize, a ten million pound award for innovation in tidal and wave energy. Mr. Salmond also stated that offshore wind development could create 20,000 jobs.
The Scottish government has set a goal of 50 percent renewable electricity by 2020. The goal for 2011 is 31 percent. In 2008, they were at 22 percent.
Image Credit: Řyvind Hagen / Statoil