The 30 megawatt Hywind Scotland floating wind farm started operating last fall, and Statoil recently said the farm “performed better than expected in its first three full months in production.” The floating farm has already survived a winter storm, a hurricane, and wave heights of around 27 feet while powering around 20,000 households in the United Kingdom.
45 to 60 percent is the “the typical capacity factor for a bottom fixed offshore wind farm” during the winter, according to Statoil. But Hywind Scotland beat that figure with an average of around 65 percent in November, December, and January, the Norwegian power company said. This means the floating wind farm “was producing 65 percent of max theoretical capacity.”
That’s a win for the floating power plant, which has already encountered brutal winter weather. Hurricane Ophelia in October saw wind speeds of 80 miles per hour, and Storm Caroline in December saw gusts of 100 miles per hour and waves of around 27 feet. The wind turbines were switched off for safety during the worst winds, Statoil said, but automatically started operating quickly after. According to the company, “A pitch motion controller is integrated with the Hywind turbine’s control system and will adjust the angle of the turbine blades during heavy winds which mitigates excessive motions of the structure.”
Statoil senior vice president of offshore wind operations Beate Myking said in the statement, “We have tested the Hywind technology in harsh weather conditions for many years and we know it works. But putting the world’s first floating wind farm into production comes with some excitement. Therefore, it is very encouraging to see how well the turbines have performed so far. Hywind Scotland’s high availability has ensured that the volume of electricity generated is substantially higher than expected.”
Statoil New Energy Solutions executive vice president Irene Rummelhoff said they are seeking new opportunities for the technology, and see potential in Europe, Asia, and North America’s west coast. Statoil and Masdar aim to cut the costs of energy from Hywind Scotland down to 40 to 60 Euros per megawatt-hour by 2030 to make it “cost competitive with other renewable energy sources.”