The world's largest floating wind farm has been given the go-ahead to be built off the coast of Scotland after the company that runs the Queen's real estate granted energy giant Statoil a lease.
In a statement on Monday, The Crown Estate, an independent company that manages the Queen's £11.5 billion portfolio across the United Kingdom, said that "preliminary on-shore and near-shore works" would begin later this year, with the deployment of turbines set to take place in 2017. The leasing of the seabed is managed by The Crown Estate.
According to Statoil, the project will center around five 6 megawatt floating turbines, and will be situated between 25 to 30 kilometers off the east coast of Scotland. The turbines will float on waters "exceeding 100 meters in depth," Statoil says.
"Hywind is the first of its kind in the world," Ronnie Quinn, general manager of The Crown Estate's Scottish portfolio, said. "Its successful operation will demonstrate the viability of floating wind in deep water locations and bring forward cost reduction techniques that will move the whole sector forward," Quinn added.
When it comes to wind energy, Scotland has considerable potential. April saw wind turbines in Scotland provide 699,684 MW hours of electricity to the National Grid, according to recent data.
The Scottish government says onshore wind power is now the most common form of renewable energy there, while Scotland is also home to a quarter of Europe's "offshore wind resources."
"Through the hard work of industry and supportive government policies, the U.K. and Scotland is taking a position at the forefront of developing offshore wind as a competitive new energy source," Leif Delp, Hywind Scotland's project director said.
Monday's announcement was met with optimism. "Successfully developing floating turbines could enable Scotland to secure even more clean energy from offshore wind in the future," WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said in a statement.
"With the right political support for offshore wind and other technologies, Scotland is well placed to become the EU's first renewable electricity nation," Banks added.