A plan to build the world’s first array of multiple floating offshore wind turbines in Scotland has been submitted by a former Scot-Govt. minister and the brother of another.
Former LibDem MSP Nicol Stephen – now a member of the British House of Lords – and Allan MacAskill, whose brother Kenny is a former Justice minister in the SNP-Govt – have combined their respective companies, Renewable Energy Ventures Offshore and MacAskill Associates to form Pilot Offshore Renewables.
This new company – Pilot Offshore Renewables – has applied to build an eight-turbine array 10-miles off Nigg Bay on the Aberdeenshire coast, to be called Kincardine Offshore Windfarm Ltd (KOWL).
MacAskill and Stephen, have made a significant contribution to the development of the offshore wind industry in Scotland through the Beatrice demonstrator project (the world’s first deep water wind farm development), SeaEnergy Renewables, the Offshore Renewables Institute and other activities.
KOWL aims to develop a pilot-scale offshore wind farm utilising floating foundation technology, which will demonstrate the technological and commercial feasibility of floating offshore wind.
This will be the world’s first array of floating wind turbines, and will establish a leading position for Scotland in the development and deployment of this novel technology.
Floating foundations open the possibility for future offshore wind farms to be located further from shore in deeper waters, minimising visual impacts whilst accessing hitherto untapped wind resources.
Floating structures also offer benefits over conventional fixed foundations in terms of reduced construction and installation costs, as extensive piling operations are not required. This also minimises potential noise impacts upon sea mammals during construction and installation.
The project site is located to the south-east of Aberdeen in water depths at the site which range from 45m to 143m, which are beyond the technical scope of current fixed foundation technologies.
However, these water depths are suitable for installing a range of different floating foundation technologies. Additionally, the site is positioned in an area with significant wind resources, and can be readily accessed from harbour facilities at Aiberdeen or Dundee.
The water depths at the KOWL site are suitable for deployment of floating wind turbine substructures fitted with the next generation large-scale turbines (6MW and larger). The location is representative of typical operating conditions for offshore wind turbines in the UK and northern Europe – thereby providing an attractive test site for turbine manufacturers wanting to demonstrate their technology.
The plant is to fit up to eight wind turbines to generate up to 50MW headline capacity, with each unit rated at 6MW or above.
The power will be exported directly to the grid by two transmission lines, connecting into the Grid at Redmoss onshore substation.
The Windfloat semi-submersible offshore ‘platform’, designed by Principle Power, has been selected as the preferred option for the Kincardine Offshore Wind Project due to its suitability for the water depths off the Scottish coast and its proven track record as a prototype design.
There are prototypes in operation off the coast of Portugal and off the coast of Japan at Fukushima.
KOWL will not decide which manufacturer it will use to supply the turbines until after all of the statutory consents are in place. However, the turbines would be of one type – three bladed with a horizontal axis nacelle positioned on a floating semi-submersible support.
There are currently five sites in Scottish Territorial Waters that have been granted exclusivity for offshore wind projects with a potential capacity of 4.76 GW (Beatrice, Argyll, Inch Cape, Neart na Gaoithe and Islay), whilst the Round 3 sites around the UK could deliver a total capacity of up to 33 GW.
The Hywind Project in Buchan Deep – further up the coast – proposed by Statoil using floating spar technology, has recently agreed a lease from the Crown Estate for a 30MW development.