Some people thought we were crazy when we put a giant wind turbine on top of a floating spar structure and towed it out to sea. But it turned out to be the future, and the future is now.

This year we’re making a giant leap forward as we install and start producing electricity from the world’s first floating wind farm. The 30 MW Hywind Scotland pilot park will demonstrate the feasibility of future commercial floating wind farms that could be more than four times the size. This will further increase the global market potential for offshore wind energy, contributing to realising Statoil’s ambition of profitable growth in renewable energy and other low-carbon solutions.

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2001
The idea

Wind turbine icon

2009
The demo

2017
The world’s first floating
wind park 

From the first pilot floating outside Karmøy, Norway in 2009 to the pilot wind farm offshore Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, cost reductions of 60—70 % have been achieved. We believe a further 40—50 % cost reduction is realistic for future projects.

Hywind is a great example of what we can achieve by combining existing oil and gas expertise with new and available technologies and innovative minds.

Hywind Scotland—the world’s first floating offshore wind park

Around 15 GW of bottom-fixed offshore wind power has already been successfully installed globally, with significant cost reductions in recent years. Statoil is already a key player in this sector, with assets in production and construction in the UK and Germany.  

Compared with bottom-fixed installations, floating substructures can be deployed in deeper waters, often further from shore, opening vast new areas and markets for offshore wind. Floating offshore wind will benefit from the technological advances and cost reductions achieved within the bottom-fixed segment.

This year, Statoil is putting all the pieces together that will make up the 30 MW Hywind Scotland wind farm. After assembly at Stord, the five turbines will be towed to Buchan Deep, 25 kilometres offshore Peterhead in Scotland. 

Did you know?

 The wind farm will power around 22,000 households.

The pilot park will cover around 4 square kilometres in water depths of 95—129 metres.

 The average wind speed in this area of the North Sea is around 10 metres per second.

This is how the wind turbines will be positioned in the water offshore Peterhead. They are anchored up with three suction anchors each, and linked together to send the electricity produced onshore

Up to speed on Hywind?

Hywind is a unique offshore wind technology, consisting of available technology and new patents developed and owned by Statoil. The concept has been verified through eight years of successful operation of a prototype installed off the island of Karmøy in Norway. With its simplicity of design, Hywind is competitive with other floating designs in water depths of more than 100 metres. Today, offshore bottom-fixed windmills are optimal for water depths ranging from 20 to 50 metres—but floating structures will enable further expansion in new deep-water areas around the world.

After testing since 2009, Statoil is now ready to make the dream come true, with a small but defining wind farm coming to life offshore Scotland. 

Vast potential for floating wind power

Placing wind turbines offshore means that acreage is not as big a challenge as it often is on land. Many locations that are ideal for producing wind energy onshore are often populated or environmentally sensitive areas. By moving the wind farm offshore, many obstacles are removed—but water depths have brought new challenges. The use of anchors to keep installations moored in place greatly multiplies the acreage available for offshore wind. 

Strong market outlook for floating wind

Entering into offshore wind was a natural move for Statoil, and an opportunity for us to capture synergies between our renewable and the oil and gas activities. We are taking our decades of offshore experience and applying our project execution capabilities to develop large-scale offshore wind farms safely and efficiently.

Offshore wind already has a strong foothold in Europe with 10 GW installed capacity, and a global potential to reach more than 100 GW by 2030. Fixed turbines are ideal for developing offshore wind in water depths of 20–50 metres. With floating structures, wind power can expand into new deep-water areas around the world—and Statoil is at the forefront of developing this market. The cost reductions we have accomplished since the demo was in place makes floating windmills even more interesting.

FLOATING OFFSHORE WIND MARKET OUTLOOK

The demand for renewables have been growing faster than everyone expected. Still, fossil fuels will make up the largest part of the world’s use of energy in the decades ahead, but demand for wind power has, and will, increase rapidly.

According to a report made for the The Scottish Government, the potential in Europe is vast. As much as 80 percent of the total potential of offshore wind power is in deep waters, perfect for solutions like Hywind. Estimates show that the technical potential for floating wind power is 6 959 GW in Europe, USA and Japan. In comparison, the Hywind floating pilot farm has a capacity of 30 MW. 

The water depths of the North Sea are ideal for floating wind, and estimates show that over half of the North Sea is suitable for deploying floating wind power. Energy produced from turbines in deep waters could meet the EU’s electricity consumption four times over, according to estimates from the European Wind Association.

Outside of Europe, most of the largest potential markets for wind power, such as United States and Japan, have few sites available for wind turbines placed on the seabed, since the waters are too deep.  Here, floating installations could be a game changer. 

Now the race is on. The deals agreed upon up to the spring of 2017 will bring about 237 megawatts capacity from floating offshore wind worldwide by 2020, according to Bloomberg.

And the first to come into production will be Statoil’s Hywind Scotland pilot park, in the autumn of 2017. 

The supplier puzzle

Hywind Scotland could probably best be described as a puzzle. Bits and pieces from all around Europe, some made especially for the project, others straight from the supplier’s shelves. For example the blades and nacelles have been brought from Denmark, the substructures from Spain, and it all comes together at Stord in the western part of Norway.

Assembled and ready to go, the wind turbines will be towed in place. This time the location is Scotland, but who knows where we go next.

Where do we go next?

This map shows the vast potential of offshore wind worldwide

Hywind Scotland may be the world’s first floating wind park, but it will certainly not be the last. In addition to Hywind, several other floating offshore wind concepts are under development, and the demand for renewable energy is growing.

Europe has excellent opportunities for floating offshore wind power, but the the US and Japanese markets also have great potential. For example, California has set a target of 50% renewable energy, and floating wind power could be the key to fulfilling this, while in Japan, the shift away from nuclear power will drive the need for new and reliable energy supplies.

Furthermore, the development of floating offshore wind power could secure thousands of jobs that today deliver services and goods to the oil and gas sector, marine industries and fisheries. To succeed with Hywind, we need to collaborate closely with suppliers and customers to reduce costs and ensure further deployment.

Statoil believes that Hywind Scotland will prove that Hywind is the most mature solution for producing floating wind energy offshore. The cost reductions seen from the pilot in 2009 and up to today show the tremendous potential of the concept.

Floating offshore wind power combines the technology we know best from our work offshore in oil and gas with traditional wind power. Who knows, some day we might be able to take advantage of the waves around the wind turbine as well?
Hywind Scotland is not a finishing line—it's the starting point of a new adventure.

hywind turbine showing scale against employee
Jonas Bostrøm AP / Statoil