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April 24, 2024

The World's Largest Floating Windfarm to be Built off the Coast of UK

How will the world's largest floating offshore wind farm affect the world of renewable wind power?

The world's largest floating offshore wind farm is going to be constructed off the coast of Scotland. This wind farm, named Green Volt, will have 35 turbines, generating 560MW of renewable energy, and will be supported by an investment of around £3bn.

The energy generated will substitute the use of natural gas and diesel to power North Sea drilling operations that extract fossil fuels to the UK. Any remaining energy will be transferred to the grid to power Scottish homes.

Green Volt will have more than double the number of turbines than the current largest floating offshore wind farm located off the coast of Norway and will generate up to six times the energy of that site.

What are floating wind turbines?

Floating wind turbines differ from standard offshore turbines as they don't have a fixed structural foundation but are held in position by a system of mooring lines.

As a result, floating turbines can theoretically be installed anywhere at sea, as the mooring lines can have unlimited lengths. Additionally, the turbines can produce more energy as they will be further out at sea, where wind conditions are more powerful and unrestricted. Whereas standard offshore turbines can only be constructed in shallow waters.

How do wind turbines work?

Once the structure of floating wind turbines is stabilised and moored, they work similarly to standard turbines. The wind turns the blades, which then converts kinetic energy into electricity. The electricity is transported through underwater cables to offshore substations and then to the grid.

The different types of floating turbines:

There are various types of floating structures to which turbines can be secured, including Barge, Semi-submersible, Spar, and Tensioned Legs Platform (TLP).

Barge: As the name suggests this is similar to the ship, the length and width are significantly larger than the height. The floating platform has a large surface area in contact with the water, which is precisely what gives it stability.

Semi-submersible: This minimised the surface area exposed to the water. It is typically several vertical cylinders connected by beams and braces to create a surface.

Spar: The weight is placed at the lowest point possible for maximum stability. As turbines become larger and larger, they require very long cylinders to compensate for the weights, which makes this solution very difficult to manufacture, transport and install.

Tension-Legs Platform (TLP): This design aims to reduce dimensions and lower manufacturing costs. Three, four, or five arms form a star-shaped base, and the volume of each arm is reduced to a minimum so that the platform floats.

What are the benefits?

Green Volt is a joint venture between Scotland’s Flotation Energy and Norway’s Vårgrønn, which will reduce carbon emissions by about 1m tonnes per year.

Furthermore, the project will create numerous job opportunities. Scotland has been selected as the location for a new European manufacturing base for floating offshore wind energy technology, following an agreement with South Korea's HD Hyundai Heavy Industries.

This is the South Korean company’s first agreement in Europe on floating offshore wind manufacturing. They are currently the world’s largest ship-building company and a major manufacturer of equipment like floating substructures which will play a vital role in the project's supply chain.

Nicol Stephen, the chief executive of Flotation Energy, said:

“This multibillion-pound development can now move forward confidently, creating hundreds of local jobs and proving that the UK and Scottish supply chain is ready to deliver commercial scale floating projects.”

Olav Hetland, the chief executive of Vårgrønn, said:

“Floating wind is set to be a huge global market in the decades to come. By being a frontrunner, Scotland is now positioned to be home to world-leading expertise and a whole industry of new jobs.”

Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s First Minister, said:

“Scotland is one of the best places in the world to develop offshore wind and its supply chain and we are determined to maximise the huge economic opportunity offshore wind can bring.”
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