Norwegian energy giant inaugurates the Hywind pilot project—the world’s first full-scale floating wind turbine—in the North Sea.
Norwegian energy giant, StatoilHydro (NYSE: STO) inaugurated its much-anticipated Hywind floating wind turbine pilot project Tuesday, six miles off the coast of Southwest Norway in the North Sea. Engineers will now test the 2.3-megawatt Siemens turbine wind turbine over a two-year period.
“We’ve drawn on experience acquired during 30 years on the Norwegian continental shelf to realise this groundbreaking project,” said Gunnar Myrebøe, executive vice president for Projects & Procurement at StatoilHydro.
Following assembly in the Åmøy Fjord near Stavanger, the 5,300-ton, Hywind pilot was towed in June to a location 10 kilometers south-west of Karmøy island for a two-year test period.
StatoilHydro is investing $67 million in the Hywind project, with about $10 million of that coming from Enova SF, the state-run public corporation owned by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy Ministry.
“Floating wind power remains an immature technology, and the road to commercialization and full-scale construction of wind farms will be long,” says Margareth Øvrum, executive vice president for Technology & New Energy at StatoilHydro.
The concept of a floating turbine has long been attractive from both aesthetic and practical standpoints. Since the Hywind is designed to operate in water depths of 120-700 meters (about 400-2300 feet), it can operate well offshore, out of sight from vocal NIMBY opponents. In terms of practicality, the floating turbine concept makes large-scale offshore wind energy development more feasible in areas with prohibitively deep waters.
Generally speaking, large-scale offshore wind development is considered more feasible on the Atlantic Coast, where water depths are not nearly as deep as they are off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington. The U.S. Department of the Interior estimates the U.S. alone could generate 900 gigawatts of wind power off its Pacific coast alone.
As Hywind has already been successfully tested and hooked up to the local grid throughout the summer, company officials say the Hywind unit will be ready to start generating electricity in late September or early October.
What: StatoilHydro's Hywind Floating Wind Turbine
Where: North Sea, Southwest Norway
Cost: $67 million
Turbine size: 2.3 MW
Turbine weight: 138 tons
Turbine height: 65 m
Rotor diameter: 82.4 m
Draft hull: 100 m
Diameter at water line: 6m
Water depths: 120-700 m
Mooring: 3 lines