Lease agreement secures landmark floating wind farm for UK

The UK’s first floating wind farm is set to be located off the Scottish coast following the announcement that The Crown Estate has granted an agreement for lease to Statoil for the next phase of its Hywind project.

The project comprises five, 6 MW floating turbines operating in waters exceeding 100 m in depth at a site in Buchan Deep, approximately 20-30 km off the coast of Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. At a total capacity of 30 MW, the scheme is set to be the largest floating wind project announced to date in Europe and one of the largest announced worldwide.

The Buchan Deep floating wind farm builds on the success of the first phase of Hywind; the successful demonstration of the world’s first full-scale floating turbine, in operation since 2009 off the coast of Norway.

The Crown Estate and Statoil have been working together closely over the past two years to progress this project, which will further enhance the UK’s position as a global leader in offshore wind technology development. Statoil are now working to secure the necessary consents from Scottish Government.

The UK has one of the best offshore wind resources in the world. Floating technology can play an important part in realising this potential, allowing developers to access new sites in deeper water, where installing conventional offshore wind turbines is not viable, and helping to substantially lower the cost of energy generated from offshore wind. The site at Buchan Deep will also play an important role in demonstrating that the technology can operate as part of an array as well as showing how knowledge, gleaned from Hywind’s first stage, has been incorporated into the latest designs.

Statoil’s senior vice president for Renewable Energy, Siri Espedal Kindem, said: “This is a significant milestone for the Hywind Scotland Pilot Park. It represents a new step in the development towards a future floating commercial scale park. We look forward to a progressed dialogue with key stakeholders in Scotland including communities, the local supply chain and the authorities. We will continue to mature the Hywind Scotland Pilot Park towards a final investment decision, by conducting marine surveys and concept studies in order to demonstrate technical and commercial feasibility for future offshore floating wind.”

Head of Offshore Wind at The Crown Estate, Huub den Rooijen, said: “Investing in new technologies will be crucial to unlocking offshore wind potential over the long term whilst we continue to focus on the current development pipeline.”

UK Government Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: “This innovative project will lead to the construction of the first floating offshore wind farms in the UK. This underlines the dynamism of the sector, and the UK’s attractiveness as the number one destination for offshore wind development.”

Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney, said: “Scotland has a huge offshore wind resource but to maximise this opportunity we need to move into deeper water. The lease agreement awarded to Statoil’s Hywind project offers the first step towards harnessing this resource.”

We manage almost the entire UK seabed as well as renewable energy generation rights on the UK continental shelf. We play an active role in supporting growth in the offshore renewable energy industry, leasing seabed for commercial schemes as well as for test and demonstration projects. As well as today’s announcement, we are also running a test and demonstration programme which includes a leasing round for offshore floating wind projects, designed to highlight the commercial viability of the technology and the benefits it can bring beyond 202o.