The world’s first floating wind farm has begun taking shape off the coast of Scotland. The first of five 575-foot turbines was towed into place last week, according to Statoil, a Norwegian energy company developing the project.
When installation is complete by the end of the year, the 30-megawatt floating facility will generate enough electricity to power 20,000 Scottish households, the company said. The $250 million project is being financed by the United Kingdom’s renewable energy fund.
The turbines are being placed 15 miles off the coast of Peterhead, in northeast Scotland, where the ocean measures up to nearly 400 feet deep. The base of the bobbing turbines consists of a tube-like structure filled with iron and ballast water to keep it afloat and upright, and it is tethered to the seafloor by three mooring cables.
Traditional wind turbines with rigid bases that extend to the sea floor are limited to water depths of 130 feet. The new floating turbines can be installed at depths up to 2,000 feet, Statoil said, opening up the possibility of installing wind farms in places with deep ocean shelves, such as the U.S. West Coast or Japan.