World's First Floating Wind Farm Performing Well Beyond Expectations

This story is part of Treehugger's news archive. Learn more about our news archiving process or read our latest news.
©. Øyvind Gravås / Woldcam - Statoil ASA

We knew that floating wind farms could be cheaper to install. But how would they actually perform?

We've been following the story of Hywind, the world's first "floating" wind farm, with great interest—not least of all for its potential to reduce installation costs and open up new territories to offshore wind in deeper waters.

But how would it actually perform?

Now, with its first quarter of energy production under its belt (and the prospect of new, larger floating wind farms in development), folks have been anxiously awaiting some actual data on energy production. According to a report over at Business Green, the early data is exceedingly good—with the project reporting an average operating capacity factor of 65% between October and January. (This compares to a typical 45-60% for a conventional wind farm during the winter months.)

Just as promising is the fact that the project survived several major storms, and 8.2 meter high waves. This, says Statoil's executive vice president for New Energy Solutions Irene Rummelhoff, suggests that floating wind turbines really could open up new waters to energy production:

"Knowing that up to 80 per cent of the offshore wind resources globally are in deep waters (+60 meters) where traditional bottom fixed installations are not suitable, we see great potential for floating offshore wind, in Asia, on the west coast of North America and in Europe. We are actively looking for new opportunities for the Hywind technology."

Who knows, with offshore wind set to finally take off in the US too, we may even see floating turbines over here in the not-too-distant future.