Wind Turbines are being installed everywhere. They can be found on the top of mountains, across the vast plains and in the waters off the coast of the world’s cities. They are also installed in the oceans and this project off the coast of Scotland is surpassing the expectations dramatically. The Hywind wind farm is the first floating wind farm and is located about 15 miles off the coast of Scotland. The interesting thing about Hywind is that it is not anchored to the seafloor.
Hywind depends upon the buoys and anchors to keep floating even when the winds or waves are high. This characteristic of the Hywind makes it a great choice for those regions where there are no offshore wind farms available. Hywind engineer Halvor Hoen Hersleth said, “The west coast of the USA, Japan and Hawaii are all places that need a lot of energy and that are consistently windy, but where the sea is very deep. Floating wind power is ideal for these areas.”
To make the floating wind farms successful, they have to be more than just versatile. These wind farms need to be more profitable which means they should generate enough energy which can justify their construction costs. The Hywind farm has succeeded in this area as well. They reached a 65% capacity factor over the past three months. The capacity factor of a generator is basically the ratio between the amount of electricity it generates and the maximum amount of energy that can be produced through it. Most of the plants like nuclear or natural gas plants which run continuously have almost a 100% capacity factor. Other renewable energy facilities like wind or solar farms have a much lower capacity factor which is roughly around 30%.
A 65% capacity factor for the Hywind farm is pretty good. The winter winds blow stronger than the summer winds. So this number is expected to drop over the next of the year. After dropping, it is still higher than other typical wind farms.
This can be a ray of hope for California which is looking for ways to meet the renewable energy agenda. The state has decided to produce 50% of its energy from clean sources by 2030. The floating offshore wind turbines can help to fulfill the energy requirements of the state. Probably this news will make the Californians look for offshore wind turbines.