Now that the world’s first floating wind farm – Hywind Scotland – has started producing energy, first doing so back in October last year, a new study is due to be carried out to see what economic benefits there could be for building more floating wind projects in the country.
The study will be carried out by Crown Estate Scotland and Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (ORE Catapult), and the results could well help the government form new policy decisions to help boost industry growth.
The floating wind industry, which is still in its burgeoning stages, does have global potential on a significant scale, providing access to high wind resources in deeper waters. Scottish waters are deeper closer to the shore, so they represent the perfect opportunity to expand the sector and allow the country to take up a global position in innovation and new technology.
The £50,000 project – overseen by other firms including RenewableUK, the Offshore Wind Industry Council and Scottish Renewables, among others – will look in detail at numerous scenarios based on potential UK content, different scales of development, the impact of government policy and the different potential economic outcomes of these scenarios.
Crown Estate Scotland’s Senior Development Manager, Sian Wilson commented: “We want to find out the scale of the economic benefits – jobs, supply chain and exports – from growing the Scottish floating wind industry. The results of this study will help UK government and others take policy decisions on how to support development.
“As the low carbon economy grows and the world needs more clean, green energy, there is potentially a great opportunity for Scotland and the wider UK in ensuring we make the most of our competitive advantage.”
Gavin Smart, Head of Insights with ORE Catapult, made further comments, saying that the key to opening up new wind resources in water too deep for bottom-fixed farms is coming up with new innovations in turbine foundations, as well as developing floating wind technologies.
This, he went on to say, will create economic opportunities for companies in Scotland to capitalise on an emerging market.
In terms of innovation, we could well see robotics take more of a centre stage in the future where offshore renewables in Scotland is concerned.
ORE Catapult is apparently already working alongside 12 other companies to develop and test out robots for accessing wind farms using boats, as well as getting workers onto turbines for essential operations. Drones and blade crawlers could also be used, as could autonomous underwater vehicles to inspect subsea structures and foundations.
Writing for the Scotsman, project engineer with ORE Catapult, Andy Kay explained, that one very real possibility is the use of autonomous boats to travel to offshore developments in order to service an entire oil field in a single trip. Hub stations may also soon be developed that can operate without any kind of human interaction whatsoever.
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