First Floating Wind Farm Passes Five-Year Operations Mark, Declares Equinor

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Hywind Scotland, the world’s first floating offshore wind farm, has passed five years in operation since its commissioning in 2017. Located off the coast of Peterhead, Scotland, it is the world’s first floating offshore wind farm, achieving a capacity factor of 54% over its five years of operations, announces Equinor. Hywind Scotland has run to high safety standards, marking five years of no loss time injuries during its operation.

With a capacity of 30 MW generated by five turbines, Hywind Scotland utilizes the Hywind floating spar-substructure concept. The wind farm generates enough electricity to power the equivalent of 34,000 U.K. homes.

“Operating the Hywind Scotland project for the past five years has informed Equinor of some of the unique challenges associated with a floating wind farm, and the rewards if we get it right,” says William Munn, plant manager of Hywind Scotland at Equinor. “Because of its location and the harsh weather conditions it encounters, Hywind Scotland has exposure to higher wind speeds than we typically see on a fixed-bottom wind farm, but also has to withstand large waves, while continuing to produce power with wave heights of 10 meters. Due to the environment, unique operations and maintenance methods have been required, such as a high-performance crew transfer vessel (CTV) that can continue operations in higher-than-standard transfer conditions.”

To maintain the wind farm, Equinor has implemented a unique operations and maintenance (O&M) model that involves upskilling onshore wind technicians to maintain turbines in an offshore, floating environment.

“Equinor is the world’s most experienced operator and developer of floating wind, and is taking lessons learned from Hywind Scotland further towards global opportunities,” comments Steinar Berge, head of floating wind at Equinor. “We are advancing plans to develop additional projects, including in South Korea, Australia, France, Spain, California, the U.K.’s Celtic Sea and Norway. Hywind Scotland provides Equinor with strong confidence in floating offshore wind technology and enables us to advance even-larger projects with a solid operational foundation, getting us closer to the ultimate aim of industrializing and commercialising floating wind.”

In addition to the operational improvements for floating offshore wind, Equinor has been advancing environmental initiatives at the Hywind Scotland project. Equinor is collaborating with Scottish Government Directorate, Marine Scotland, to better understand how fishers can safely operate around and within floating offshore wind farms. Further initiatives include the installation of an autonomous SailBuoy to map fish presence and biomass quantity with acoustic sensors, and testing a new method of analyzing environmental DNA (eDNA) at Hywind Scotland.

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