Skip to Content
Uncategorized

The World’s First Floating Wind Farm Is Now Producing Energy

October 19, 2017

Over 15 miles from the coast of Scotland, a wind power project could foreshadow a major part of our clean-energy future. Hywind Scotland, situated in Buchan Deep, is the world’s first floating wind farm, with its five six-megawatt turbines now generating electricity. On shore, a one-megawatt-hour lithium battery also helps smooth its potentially erratic supply of electricity to the grid.

The project, which is a collaboration between the Norwegian oil firm Statoil and Masdar Abu Dhabi Future Energy, makes use of turbine towers that are 253 meters tall, with 78 meters of that submerged in the North Sea. Each tower is tethered using three cables that are anchored to the seabed. 

Floating wind farms far out at sea hold a lot of promise for future energy generation. A recent analysis showed that they operate more efficiently than those on land or close to the coast, to the extent that three million square kilometers of floating wind turbines could supply the entire world’s current energy demand. It’s also a concept that’s catching on elsewhere, with a scheme similar to the Scottish project under consideration in California.

The sticking point, for now at least, is cost. Bloomberg reports that the Buchan Deep project cost a total of $263 million to complete. It currently receives $185 per megawatt-hour of subsidies from the British government, on top of the $65 per megawatt-hour it earns for the wholesale price of the electricity it creates. In other words, it’s damned expensive.

Statoil says that it hopes floating wind farms could produce energy for between $50 and $70 per megawatt-hour by 2030. That’s terribly ambitious—but if it manages the feat, expect to see more wind turbines popping up in the middle of the ocean before long.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready?

Digital clones of the people we love could forever change how we grieve.

How to befriend a crow

I watched a bunch of crows on TikTok and now I'm trying to connect with some local birds.

Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not

Elon said no thanks to using his mega-constellation for navigation. Researchers went ahead anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.