The Scottish government’s plans to establish the country as a world-leading hub for floating wind turbine technology took another step forward last week when planning approval was granted for the third demonstration project in Scottish waters.
On Friday, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse approved planning consent for two turbine Dounreay Trì Floating Wind Demonstration Project, which will be located approximately six km off the Caithness coastline.
The move follows recent planning approval for the Kincardine Floating Offshore Wind farm and last year’s consent for the Hywind Scotland Pilot.
The government said it has now approved floating turbine projects boasting 92MW of capacity, establishing the country as “a world centre for this innovative technology”.
The latest project is being developed by Swedish engineering firm Hexicon, which has pioneered an innovative approach to installing multiple turbines on floating structures.
The project is expected to create around 100 jobs during the construction and installation process, before delivering enough clean power for around 8,000 homes.
“Once operational, this demonstrator project will help to develop this pioneering technology and cement Scotland’s reputation at the forefront of innovation in the renewables sector,” said Wheelhouse. “With the consent for this project, the Scottish Government has now approved a total of 92MW of floating offshore wind, enough to power almost 60,000 homes. This not only highlights our commitment to exploring this innovative technology, but offers real scope for the development of wind energy projects in deeper water, in Scotland and across the world.”
Marcus Thor, Dounreay Project Director, said the installation could help open up a major new market that promises to significantly reduce the cost of offshore wind power. “It is fantastic news for Hexicon that the Dounreay Tri project has permission to proceed,” he said. “We are grateful that Scotland is taking positive steps to lead in the development of this innovative technology. Hexicon is encouraged that this demonstration plant will lead to the deployment of many more floating wind farms around the world.”
The cost of offshore wind power has already fallen by about a third in the past four years as the industry has scaled up. But advocates of the technology are confident floating turbines can deliver significant further cost savings by removing the need for costly foundations and allowing wind farms to access deeper waters where winds are stronger and more reliable.
Hexicon said the next step for the Dounreay is to work towards a final investment decision that would allow the project to be constructed, installed and commissioned by 1 September 2018 under the terms of the Obligation Certification regime.