04 Aug 2021 | 12:44 PM
The Kincardine floating offshore wind farm is in the process of receiving its finishing touches. First envisioned in 2017, the 50MW offshore wind project consists of six wind turbines that could generate up to 218 GWh (Giga-Watt-Hours) of energy per year – more than what some small countries generate. The Kincardine floating wind farm is being developed in Aberdeen Bay, approximately 9 miles off the southeast coast of Kincardineshire, at water depths ranging between 200 and 240 feet. Spread over 42 square miles, the project site lies within the western half of the OWNE1 offshore wind development area of Scotland. The first turbine in the Kincardine project was installed in 2018 and uses the Vestas V-series wind turbines. The first one was a smaller 2MW unit, while the five that followed were much more powerful, rated at 9.5 Megawatts each. The 50MW project has been developed by Spain’s Cobra group, while the cabling is being carried out by connector tech company First Subsea. Project Details Installing a wind turbine on land is difficult, but getting one mounted atop a floating platform and then tugging it all the way over a distance of 524 nautical miles in choppy seas is something we can’t even begin to process. The size and complexity of the project are further complicated by the pandemic restrictions, which meant all the teams were operating on reduced staff. The turbines were towed to the site by a towing vessel, to a specially designed platform called a WindFloat, developed primarily to weather the rough currents off the coast of Scotland. Instead of using just one solid beam, the new platform has three submerged, hollow, interconnected locking arms. The arms have an automatic ballast system that fills up any or all the arms with water depending on the size and strength of the waves hitting the platform. The platforms are built tough — designed to last for at least 25 years. While fixed wind turbines sit at a depth of 45 – 60 feet in depth, the Kincardine turbines’ semi-submersible supports allow them to be anchored at depths of up to 250 feet. Then, there are the Vista V174 turbines themselves. With a 774-foot rotor diameter, each 35-ton turbine blade sweeps an area of 470,845 square feet and will have the capacity to power 9,000 households. In all, the Kincardine project is expected to power 55,000 homes. The turbines were developed in collaboration with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. In February, Vestas announced the launch of an even larger type of wind turbine — the V236-15.0MW. The 15MW turbines trump GE’s Halide-X 14 MW units, making the Vestas windmills the largest in the world. According to reports, the 236 series has already started receiving a lot of commercial interest. Turbine specs Rated power - 9,500/9,600kW Cut-in or minimum wind speed - 3m/s Cut-out or maximum wind speed, 25m/s Wind class - IEC IB or IBT adapted to offshore conditions Standard operating temperature range - from -15°C* to +25°C* with a de-rating interval from +25°C to +35°C Higher ambient temperature variant available, Sound Output - Maximum - 112.9dB(A) Rotor diameter - 174m Swept area - 470,845 square feet Frequency - 50/60 Hz Converter - full scale Gearbox type - medium speed The Location Sailing the North Sea is considered a feat equivalent to climbing Mount Everest because of the perennially choppy seas and the sudden weather changes. But did you know that the North Sea also has a shallow sea bed that massively speeds up the installation of offshore assets? The Kincardine project, located 9 miles off the port of Aberdeen— technically wind turbine heaven because of this. It’s a busy shipping lane, so maintenance and repairs will be cheaper. Plus, the strong winds ensure an efficient energy supply. And the low temperature improves conductivity, reducing undersea cable fatigue. Many countries in the world have longer coasts and better wind conditions, but the seafloor is too deep. Installing wind turbines close to the shore has another set of challenges — a shifting floor, just to name one. Wind turbines weigh hundreds of tons and need firm support for smooth operation. To make that happen, builders install the foundation on consistent sea beds, and these are only found beyond 20 miles from the sea coast. The Kincaide wind farm has floating, semi-submersible supports that keep the installed equipment firmly anchored to the seafloor, no matter how weak or inconsistent the floor is. And that’s also why it’s located only 9 miles from the port of Aberdeen. The Future Now, let’s talk money. The global floating wind power market size was $0.67 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $59.24 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 82.2% during the forecast period. The world leader in offshore wind energy is Japan. The country is looking to produce up to 10 Gigawatts in 2030, which should increase to 30-45 GW in 2040. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) projections, global offshore wind and ocean energy installed capacity will reach 228 GW and 10 GW respectively by 2030. Wind energy is one of the cheapest forms of energy and this is a proven fact. While land-based wind farms have their own set of advantages, they also use up space that could be used for other purposes. It’s essentially a fixed installation with a less-than-average capacity to grow. Floating wind farms on the other hand are movable, linkable with larger wind farms, and offer relatively low running expenses compared to their land-based cousins. Since some of the world’s largest, most energy-hungry cities are located on the coastline, off-shore wind farms show huge promise. Disclaimer: This information represents the personal views and opinions of the author(s). It does not represent the views and opinions of UN GCNI, UNGC, SOCIOLADDER FOUNDATION, THE SUSTAINEVERSE PLATFORM, or any other third party including sponsors, strategic partners, or other users of SUSTAINEVSERSE. While UN GCNI and SOCIOLADDER strive to make the information on the SUSTAINEVERSE Platform as timely and accurate as possible, they make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the contents. Any views or opinions expressed are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, community, organization, company or individual.