The Hywind offshore windfarm stands 15 miles off the coast of Peterhead, and firmly on the cusp of Britain’s most dramatic energy revolution since the discovery of North Sea oil. The world’s first floating windfarm was one of the first low-carbon energy projects developed by Norway’s state oil giant Equinor, and today is one of the best performing windfarms ever built. “On a super-clear day you might just be able to make them out from land,” says Equinor’s Stephen Bull, of the turbines floating above the ageing crude oil pipelines which criss-cross the North Sea. The government hopes that within the next 10 years there will be enough offshore turbines to power every home in Britain, including more world-leading floating windfarms. Boris Johnson last week set out plans to use offshore wind power as the backbone of Britain’s carbon-neutral energy future, calling for 10 times the existing offshore wind capacity by 2030, or 40GW, including 1GW of floating turbines. within the industry there is little doubt that it can be done. Investor appetite has been whetted by years of falling costs, guaranteed returns and growing political support. The sector has already exceeded expectations in recent years to emerge as one of Britain’s great modern industrial success stories – and it is ready to do so again. The catch? It needs government ministers to translate the rhetoric to reality. “We are very keen on doing more floating offshore projects in the UK,” says Bull. “We absolutely welcome the 1GW target from the government, but we could easily get up to 2GW if we have the right government support.” As part of the government’s plan, it has promised £160m to upgrade Britain’s ports to manage the giant turbine blades as they pass through on their way to sea. Better ports bring benefits to local communities and help to establish supply chains which can act as an economic multiplier for the benefits of offshore wind.
Guardian 10th Oct 2020 read more »