Surprising: World’s First Floating Wind Farm Outperforms

The 30MW Hywind Scotland, the world’s first commercial-scale floating wind farm, performed better than expected in its first three full months in production, Statoil, the operator of the wind farm said.

The Hywind Scotland floating wind farm. (Photo: Øyvind Gravås / Woldcam – Statoil ASA)

Despite one hurricane, one winter storm and wave heights of up to 8,2 meters, Hywind Scotland, the world’s first floating wind farm, performed better than expected in its first 3 full months in production.

The 30MW wind farm, operated by Statoil in partnership with Masdar, is located 25 kilometers offshore Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and is powering approximately 20,000 UK households.

During the winter, when the wind is at its strongest, the typical capacity factor for an bottom fixed offshore wind farm is 45-60%. By comparison, Hywind Scotland achieved an average of approximately 65% during November, December and January, i.e that the wind farm was producing 65% of max theoretical capacity.

A capacity factor of 100 % means all wind turbines have generated at maximum output every second of the day.

“We have tested the Hywind technology in harsh weather conditions for many years and we know it works. But putting the world’s first floating wind farm into production comes with some excitement. Therefore, it is very encouraging to see how well the turbines have performed so far. Hywind Scotland’s high availability has ensured that the volume of electricity generated is substantially higher than expected. In addition, it has delivered without any HSE incidents,” says Beate Myking, senior vice president of offshore wind operations in Statoil.

Hywind Scotland’s first encounter with harsh weather conditions was the hurricane Ophelia in October when wind speed of 125 kilometers per hour (80mph) were recorded. These wind speeds were surpassed during Storm Caroline in early December when gusts in excess of 160 km/h (100 mph) and waves in excess of 8,2 meters were recorded.

Whilst the wind turbines shut down for safety reasons during the worst of these winds, they automatically resumed operation promptly afterwards. A pitch motion controller is integrated with the Hywind turbine’s control system and will adjust the angle of the turbine blades during heavy winds which mitigates excessive motions of the structure.

Looking for new opportunities

“Knowing that up to 80% of the offshore wind resources globally are in deep waters (+60 meters) where traditional bottom fixed installations are not suitable, we see great potential for floating offshore wind, in Asia, on the west coast of North America and in Europe. We are actively looking for new opportunities for the Hywind technology,” says Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president for New Energy Solutions in Statoil.

Statoil and Masdar are having an ambition to reduce the costs of energy from the Hywind floating wind farm to 40-60 €/MWh by 2030, making it cost competitive with other renewable energy sources.

“This is an ambitious, but realistic target. Optimised design, larger and more efficient turbines, technology development and larger wind parks will drive down costs, improve infrastructure and logistics,” Rummelhoff says.

Source: Statoil Press Release h/t to Roger Sowell

Wind power engineering seems to be getting better. The key metric of success will be how well it holds up over the long-term to payback the costs of engineering, installation, and operation.

133 thoughts on “Surprising: World’s First Floating Wind Farm Outperforms

  1. Windmills are part of a basket of energy conversion/production technologies with niche applications. That said, it should still be characterized as an artificial green blight (i.e. low-density environmental disrupter), and considered appropriately as suitable to purpose in context.

    • “…it should still be characterized as an artificial green blight (i.e. low-density environmental disrupter), and considered appropriately as suitable to purpose in context.”
      More polite than I would offer. Call me in 2030. This unit achieves 65% performance at less than 2% of design life. It’s not even broken in.
      Storage? I still favor the eagles.

      • Not sure about actual costs to construct but projected costs were 210m GBP. With powering 20,000 households that is just around 10,500 GBP per house

      • While there is a question of ROI, unreliable technology coupled with renewable drivers may not be well suited for mission critical systems, they can serve a useful purpose in other areas, including, for example: desalination, waste processing, etc.

      • yes Bryan, that is the kind of hard nosed calculation this kind of “reporting” always manages to avoid.
        30MW *65% = 20 MW , that makes 1kW each 24/7 for the alleged 20k homes being “supplied”.
        Now taking the first figure I can find, UK households use about 4000kWh per year ( slightly higher in Scotland); ie a mean of 11kW per day. So they probably could claim more than 20k for that period.
        Of course they never actually give the figures they have in real,engineering numbers but have to try to obfuscate by dumbing it down into “Olympic sized swimming pool” type units.

      • oops 11kWh per day, that’s slightly more than 500 W 24/7 . I’m guessing the 20k households was their initial PR talk for the expected annual production.

    • So capacity factor during a hurricane or no wind is 0%. What do they use as backup to ensure a steady supply?

      • Except the oil plant has to be kept running all the time ready to take over when the wind speeds either drops or increases by too much.
        End result, no decrease in oil usage.

      • The other problem is that the oil plant costs the same whether you are using it 100% of the time or 50% of the time. So not only do you to pay for the renewables, the amount you are paying for the oil power doesn’t go down.

    • When they are calculating the costs of electricity generation from other forms of energy I am guessing they are taking the cost as the cost the present electricity producer is experiencing for that region. They are forgetting that the costs have tripled in the last 15 years wherever green energy has been implemented. Those tripled prices are the direct result of subsidies and infrastructure, and spinning costs … etc. to the green energy alternatives. So the real comparison to competitiveness is what will be the cost of the floating wind turbines by 2030 as compared to a past value cost ( costed out to its future value cost as of 2030) of the energy costs of the electricity provider in the year before subsidies started. If that was done the target date will have to be pushed further into the future than 2030. Already 2030 is 12 years ahead and if the real even cost date is something like 20 years ahead then you have to add additional costs of the replacement of the wind turbines because they obviously have a finite life. If this 2nd extra cost is added in then I suspect that the wind turbines will never pay for themselves as an even replacement cost alternative for coal plants.

      • A measure of healthy skepticism is essential for the orderly advance of science and skepticism is even more important for the orderly development of engineering and technological innovations. The “renewable” energy discourse has evolved (devolved?) to the level that it pits reason against faith, or faith against reason if you prefer.
        I think the apparent “faith-based” belief that we will ever be able to develop our science and technologies to the point that we will be able to use wind and solar PV to produce and provide an amount of usable electricity that is equal to the amount that we are currently deriving from fossil fuels is more off the wall than many cult religions. We should be operating based on the principle that sometime in the future when the inevitable depletion of available fossil fuels has occurred, the amount of energy that we have in our lives will be less that we have now and that amount will come with a unit cost that is greater than today — It’s simply a fact, Jack.

      • that amount will come with a unit cost that is greater than today
        what will be sacrificed to pay for this?
        technology has a history of reducing costs. otherwise competition eliminates the technology or the government or the people.
        when laws make the technology too big to fail they set in motion a conflict between government and the people.
        in many ways the rise in populism aka brexit and trump are a direct result of this conflict.

      • I have no problem with renewable power systems – they are to be encouraged, but not at any cost! At present, Renewable Power Suppliers conveniently ignore the overall costs to the customer, as incurred by themselves, and also incurred by others – as needed to provide comparable base load power systems; and yet they still need subsidies.
        Taking Wind Turbines as an example, the power costs passed onto the customer have to still include the subsidy costs to make their operations commercially viable, together with the further subsidised costs of providing necessary inefficiently operated standby Gas Turbine plants which are needed because of the imposed ever varying 0-100% WT capacity power demand shortfalls imposed on them to maintain power supplies during typical and frequent no/low wind conditions – even over extended winter periods of maximum power demand.
        Effectively the customer is ultimately paying for massive excessive installed Power Generation capacity and extended/enhanced Power Transmission works and power losses, as well as two lots of subsidies simply to accommodate these in-built WT operation inefficiencies, – something that no amount of WT R&D expenditure will ever significantly reduce. !
        A very simple total life cycle cost comparison of the like for like base load systems, i.e. systems that produce power when needed and not when available, with a Wind Farm System, standby GT’s and extended PT works compared to a stand alone base load Gas Turbine systems quickly identifies that WT’s can effectively never be economical.
        We as customers are continually being conned by the WT industry! We need UK fracked gas and new GT power to rapidly fill a widening UK Energy Gap and to drive down power costs and hence all our other costs – which will assist in maintaining and re-establishing strategic industries and export trades. At least we would then be able to buy time for the necessary R&D work on base load renewable systems – needed when gas supplies run out!

    • ” making it cost competitive with other renewable energy sources.”
      So, they are admitting that it is expensive, as they do not compare it to other energy sources.

      • See above. Let us wait, also, to see the eventual life of these WT’s, their actual future power outputs, and also their Operational and Maintenance/Replacement costs!

    • ” The key metric of success will be how well it holds up over the long-term to payback the costs of engineering, installation, and operation.” Given the low energy density of wind even at rated capacity the engineering cost is high. Put the device offshore and both the installation and mainetnance costs go up. Get back yto me when the project is paying its way.
      “Windmills are part of a basket of energy conversion/production technologies ”
      shouldn’t that have read
      “Windmills are part of a basket case of energy conversion/production technologies ” ?

      • That’s why they’re running Drax on wood pellets from forests felled in America even though, overall, it produces more plant food (CO2) than it would if it ran on coal. Anything to keep the cost of running Drax as high as possible so it doesn’t make those seagull slaughtering whirligigs look quite so uneconomic.

  2. Does not include the cost of the backup, either the fossil it keeps on the grid to do this, or the hugely expensive battery or pumped storage necessary w.o fossil for times when wind output is close to zero during winter high pressure systems.

  3. What was the actual cost of the electricity produced? Including the connections to shore. How does that compare to other new-build installations, including fuel costs?

    • And the expected lifetime of the cabling to shore which must be flexed at the same points to some extent with every wave…

    • Those in the know say the all-in price (including construction, engineering, transmission, fuel, and O&M) for each unit of electricity, the offshore wind costs are twice the costs of a power from new combined cycle natural gas turbine.

  4. “making it cost competitive with other renewable energy sources.”
    ….oh good grief….this is their bragging rights?….how about making it cost competitive with conventional energy sources….then they would have something to brag about

    • So in other words, the floating bird shredders suck about as much as any other greentarded energy “solution”. Why don’t we just burn cash, along with our food?

    • That’s the point. If fossile energy is phased out, the costs of renewable energy may skyrocket, so it is easy to be competitive. Let’s see how they perform after 5 years. ‘Before the court and on the high sea one is in God’s hands’. I hope he’ll stop that sort of renewable hubris.

    • Dad to go reread the context of the quote you referenced:
      [ Statoil and Masdar are having an ambition to reduce the costs of energy from the Hywind floating wind farm to 40-60 €/MWh by 2030, making it cost competitive with other renewable energy sources. ]
      “having an amibition” … “by 2030” … leads me to believe that this power is not even comparable to other renewable energy sources today.

      • I used to “have an ambition” to meet Marilyn Monroe; then Gina Lollobrigida; then… None of those “ambitions” were ever realized!

      • “to meet Marilyn Monroe; then Gina Lollobrigida; then… None of those “ambitions” were ever realized!”
        Along with Jan Stephenson. I had to laugh, mine were never realized either.

    • Scottish subsidies to offshore wind is around $300 million a year….
      “Part of the attraction for Scottish politicians is that the subsidies that pay for Scottish wind farms come from consumers all over Great Britain. Scottish consumption is about 10 per cent of the British total – so when the Scottish government grants planning permission to the wind industry, it is simply writing a cheque drawn overwhelmingly on English and Welsh accounts. Taxation without representation, in fact.”

      • “Subsidies to onshore wind in the UK now cost a little under £600 million a year, with Scottish wind taking about half”……..

  5. that’s a pretty wild and windy part of the UK. If it can operate there it can operate anywhere. The key question is its durability and costs, as UK guaranteed energy prices to the supplier for renewables is very high which impacts on the cost to the consumer..
    Hopefully it can demonstrate that low prices and renewable can be mentioned in the same sentence.
    We shall see.

  6. I loved this part:

    Statoil and Masdar are having an ambition to reduce the costs of energy from the Hywind floating wind farm to 40-60 €/MWh by 2030, making it cost competitive with other renewable energy sources.

    Several things:
    1) Nothing about current costs, just future hopes.
    2) They’re not saying it’s as cheap as fossil power, just as cheap as renewable power.
    3) “40-60 €/MWh” is 60 cents to 90 cents US per kilowatt hour … most of the US pays around 10 cents per Kw-hr, here in the People’s Republic of California the green lunacy has me up to 15 cents per Kw-hr. [That was wrong, I’m ashamed to say, moving too fast. Thanks to those pointing it out. It should have said about 6 to 9 cents per Kw-hr … which I’ll believe only when I see it. No unsubsidized wind power I know of is that cheap.]
    If that’s all they are getting from fighting the weather and the waves and the hurricanes, they can all just go home now. That’s a green joke.

    • Willis, at 1.23 $ per euro currently, this would work out to about $50 to $73 per MWh, which is $0.05 to $0.073 per kwh. Still, it’s their “ambition”, for which no market exists.

    • Fortunately we of the Peoples Republic of California aren’t yet the Peoples Democratic Republic of California though Governor Jerry (Green) Brown has us going in that direction.

      • davidgmillsatty February 17, 2018 at 8:22 pm

        There is always Mississippi or Alabama if you prefer a more fascist form of government.

        So if someone doesn’t like the insanely liberal politics of California, they’re a fascist. Got it.
        You do understand that that kind of logic is why we have Donald Trump, I hope, but carry on …

    • “40-60 €/MWh” is 60 cents to 90 cents US per kilowatt hour
      40-60 € x 1.24 = $60 – $75 /MWh. Divide that by 1000 we get $0.06 – $0.075. In other words, 6 to 7.5 cents per kWh.
      As others have pointed out, that’s probably not what the customers will end up paying.

      • Ted Midd February 16, 2018 at 1:16 pm
        What would be the cost without subsidies?

        My first reaction was: If you have to ask the price …

        “If you have to ask, you (probably) can’t afford it” is a saying used to describe purchases of expensive products, such as homes, cars and jewelry. Financier J. P. Morgan (1837-1913) allegedly gave this advice to banker Henry Clay Pierce in 1902, dissuading him from buying a yacht. link

        My favorite definition of boat is: ‘A hole in the water into which you pour money.” A yacht differs only in magnitude. Renewable energy is a lot like yachts in that regard … ie. a very expensive luxury.

      • I’ve known a number of people who’ve been quite happy with their little bass boats to the point when the boat reached the point where you could no longer step in it without stepping through it, they went out and bought another.

      • yes every millionaire and billionaire that buys a yacht finds out that it is just a super expensive way of getting from one port to another port by travelling slower than you could of got there by any other means of fueled transport.

  7. The key metric of success will be, how long it can keep riding the fat subsides gravy train.
    That a power producing system has to be shut down when there is to much of its fuel source , has to be truly ironic given it was the free nature of this source which its selling point and the intermittent nature of its ability biggest weakness .

  8. Utility scale solar PV from the sector leaders is headed for 20 cents a watt next year and without ocean engineering to accomplish it. Be careful buddy.

    • I have invented a renewable underwater breathing apparatus that is half the cost of a conventional underwater breathing apparatus. It should work fine if you don’t mind that it only works intermittently.

      • In a normal grid, you have a pretty good idea, days in advance, when the peaker plants will be needed.
        With renewables, you usually have little to no notice before hand.

      • In a normal grid, peaker plants are only needed to provide an extra percent or two to get the grid past peak load of the day.
        In a grid dominated by renewable energy, you need enough peaking power to completely take over power generation when the wind stops blowing at night.
        Another point is that peaking power is usually needed for 30 minutes to an hour or so. Peaking power in a renewables dominated grid will be needed all night when the solar plants stop producing altogether.

      • ResourceGuy,
        In the good old days, you needed some 10% backup of maximum (in our country winter) consumption for in case a huge unit failed at once and some 10% power from the neighbors for in case that at the same moment one of the other huge units was in maintenance. If you install 30% renewables like wind and solar, you need additional 30% backup for in case that there is no wind or sun, as is always the case at night and 10% of summer yield in winter for solar and 70% of the time for wind on land.
        Thus in case of installing costs, all extra installations needed for wind and solar backup must be included and running them idle or full speed needs to be added to to the running costs of these renewables…

  9. Happy, happy, joy, joy! Each floating whirligig powers up to 2.5 Algore-homes, or a Big-Wig climate meeting for 97% of a second.

    • And when you get near them you can hear the pounding (Swoop, Swoop, Swoop, Swop, Swoop, Swoop) of their AlGore Rhythm

  10. “The key metric of success will be how well it holds up over the long-term to payback the costs of engineering, installation, and operation.”
    Yes, that is the bottom line. Was this installation subsidized? If so, we need to add the subsidies to the metric.

  11. I’d like to know the impact on wildlife, especially birds. Do many habitually fly in that location? How many are lost to the flying blades? The article did not mention that aspect.

    • Going out on a limb here. They’ll send an intern to count dead birds at the bottom of the windmills who will joyfully return with a count of zero deaths and as a plus the windmills will have fatter, healthier fish swimming in the shadows. At that point they’ll declare victory over solving the bird chopper problem and how they’ve also solved the world fisheries declining population problem! Full steam ahead on building more windmills at sea!
      Need I say /sarc?

      • I’ll go farther than that. The harmonics disrupt the aquatics in the area and they all die. Forcing any future installations to be on land. 🙁

  12. Just spitballing but, Statoil couldn’t possibly be just a bit biased about the performance of Hywind, could they?

  13. This is a function of wind resource, not technological adroitness…

    During the winter, when the wind is at its strongest, the typical capacity factor for an bottom fixed offshore wind farm is 45-60%. By comparison, Hywind Scotland achieved an average of approximately 65% during November, December and January, i.e that the wind farm was producing 65% of max theoretical capacity.

    Unless the wind turbines are suffering mechanical issues, the capacity factor is dictated by the wind.

  14. A hurricane? Your BS meter should have blown up already. Supposedly a hurricane made it further n/w than ever before, but it never got anywhere near Scotland.
    By a fluke of the weather, what is always the most productive time of year was at the upper end of the expected range. Over the next few years it will average out at 35% or whatever, like all the other industrial complexes busy destroying migrating birds and bats and massively inflating my electricity bill.
    Just more wind industry propaganda.

    • Good, I’m glad someone else spotted the incorrect labelling of EX-Hurricane Ophelia. Also, as for high productivity, it is all down to the weather. There has been very little high pressure in that area this winter, so plenty of wind.

  15. 30 MW * 24 hr/d * 0.65 = 468 MWh/d… About 1,600 mmbtu/d.
    A single typical Marcellus well produces 5,000 mmbtu/d of natural gas. At 7,870 btu/kWh, that’s 635 MWh/d.

    • David: what are the footprint and development cost for a single Marcellus well?

      • The footprint is tiny. I’d have to look up the exact numbers.
        Breakeven for the Marcellus ranges from $2.00-$3.00/mmbtu. At 5,000 mmbtu/d and 7,870 btu/kWh, that’s about $24/MWh.
        The breakeven for offshore wind is around $155/MWh.

      • David Middleton,
        Somewhat OT, but I’ve passed a couple NY Marcellus questions past you before. I don’t know if this is up your alley, but I hope you would entertain this one.
        Without going into boring (no pun intended :)) detail, the NYDEC issued the final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) which essentially bans “high-volume hydraulic fracturing.” I looked at a website recently (can’t find it again) that, I think, defines HVHF as over 300,000 gallons of water. Don’t think that this is your area of expertise, but just wondering because I have no idea. Can you do hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus in New York (profitably) with less than 300,00 gallons of water, or did they pick this because they knew it couldn’t be done, so effectively banned on all gas exploration in NY.

      • Maybe bass ackwards, but what prompted my question was AW,CDL7’s question about footprint. When I was younger, I spent a lot of time in north central PA (where they allow production) and south central NY (where they ban production), and you can look on Google Earth to see the footprint of a Marcellus well (HINT: not much). Newly developed shopping centers in the area take up more footprint than a gas well (and have large parking lot for cars, heat islands, etc.). Gas wells are usually up in the hills away from the developed areas.

  16. So after 3 months in peak/ideal conditions they performed “better than expected” providing 65% of capacity. Come back in a year and tell us how much they produced and how much was actually used and what the maintenance costs were. California plays the “energy produced” misinformation game with all its’ wind and solar installations to deflate cost/kwh. With all the talk about how wind and solar are becoming competitive with fossil fuel energy how come everyone’s utility bills are rising so drastically?

  17. Sum up all the steel and other materials used pr. mill it is crazy. Much more than for onshore wind. Each mill has a tower of 670 tonnes, substructure of 2300 tonnes, 10000 tonnes ballast and 3 chains totaling 1200 tonnes of steel. Perhaps 10x more than an onshore mill. The cost, the energy input and CO2 emissions from the manufacturing made with fossile energy. They call this green energy. I call it subsidised industrialization of nature.

    • Simply getting the machine to site and installed is a huge undertaking. I am impressed they can do it. It would be better if there was only private investment involved. If it is viable it doesn’t need subsidies.
      Given the storminess and waviness of the area, perhaps it would have been best to build wave generators and tidal entrainment. Are readers aware that these wind turbines consume power when the wind is not blowing? It is not just backup that is needed, it is the energy to keep them heated and turning plus 100% backup.

  18. “We are actively looking for new opportunities for the Hywind technology”. Translation “We are actively looking for big subsidies for the Hywind technology”. There, fixed it.

  19. “…performed better than expected in its first three full months in production”

    Better than imagined, maybe?
    Well, I could expect quite a lot, but right now I’m stuck with fantasies. Fantasies such as wind-generated electricity that could actually compete on cost and reliability with gas and coal generation without government subsidies and legally required feed-in tariffs. What other industries in the world actually get to have laws made that mandate that the customer buys a company’s product when there are cheaper ones available?

    • Don’t forget the right to feed in, plus the tariff. It is the ‘must take it’ that is causing so many losses. The wind farm is guaranteed the income whether the power is needed or not. The same does not apply to other producers. They can only sell when there is a customer. The wind farm contracts make the distributor the customer.
      For this reason the South African giant ESKOM is refusing to take ‘renewable power’ even at a low price unless they can pass along the true cost of keeping their investment idling – for which they have to pay, used or not – on to the consumer. The government says “No.” They say, “Then, No deal.”
      Stalemate at the moment.

  20. So they have ambitions to reduce their costs at the low end, by 2030, to what nuclear plants in Ontario get paid now. OK then.

  21. Windmills are just stupid. And their output depends upon the wind, not whether they are floating.
    I saw the stats that , just to produce enough energy to equal the typical yearly increase in consumption, one would have to build 350,000 ginat windmills, and require all of the land area of the British Isles, Ireland incuded.

  22. The first Tay River Rail Bridge at Dundee lasted for eight years before it collapsed in a 10-11 Beaufort Scale Tempest. It is early days yet for these floating gizmos.

  23. No problem with this tech. Let it ‘float’ free and if it competes then that’s great. No way I want my taxes going into it though. If Statoil think it’s a winner then let them and the Norwegian government fund it and good luck to them.

  24. So far. But 3 months? The North Atlantic is patient. It’s thinking up something to throw a monkey wrench into the works. Remember the world’s first unsinkable ship? Maybe a plus is seabirds dont spend much time that far offshore, although that never is a consideration anyway.

    • Thomas, do you understand energy density? The rough rule-of-thumb is nuclear is 1000 X more energy dense than fossil-fuels, and fossil-fuels are 1000 X more energy dense than wind, solar, etc. Now do you understand why windmills were quickly abandoned after fossil fuels were developed? To engineers, these whirligigs are like going from modern automobiles back to horse & buggies.

  25. The article reads [excerpt]:
    “During the winter, when the wind is at its strongest, the typical capacity factor for an bottom fixed offshore wind farm is 45-60%. By comparison, Hywind Scotland achieved an average of approximately 65% during November, December and January, i.e. that the wind farm was producing 65% of max theoretical capacity.
    A capacity factor of 100 % means all wind turbines have generated at maximum output every second of the day.”
    The is no reason I can see that this floating installation should have a much higher capacity factor than a bottom-fixed offshore structure – maybe there is a bit more wind because it is further offshore, BUT note that these are only numbers for November to January inclusive – what about the total year?
    Besides, the Capacity Factor does not recognize the huge disadvantage of wind power – that it is non-dispatchable and essentially worthless when it is not in demand. I made a crude analysis of German wind power here on wattsup recently, and concluded that in Germany non-dispatchable wind power is worth about 5% of dispatchable power. It only looks as good as they claim because all the costs of conventional power backup, etc. are NOT included. Let’s give this project “the benefit of the doubt” and assume its power is worth a full 10% of conventional dispatchable power.

    • Comparing a three month period against an estimate for the entire year is a bit deceptive.
      I haven’t looked up average wind for that area vs month of the year.

  26. Lots of negative comments, but these guys are good engineers not a bunch of university leftists. Their plan seem solid, though ambitious. I believe they will be able to get good efficiency out of it at a reasonable price – probably lower than any previous offshore wind farm.
    The really good point is that it doesn’t take up useful land and will have a significantly lower bad impact on the environment than land-based wind farms (not sure about the effect on birds, though – may depend on migratory patterns.
    The issue is that it isn’t the engineers’ job or the business’ job to get the power to the final user at a reasonable rate at all times. Back up power or storage isn’t in the engineers’ job descriptions and making money, including all subsidies and not worrying about externalities, is the business’ job description.

    • Norm – you are missing the point. The engineers are certainly talented, but they are probably engaged in a fool’s errand. Non-dispatchable wind power is almost worthless when it comprises a large part of a conventional power grid, because it requires almost 100% conventional backup.
      The fr@ud in wind power schemes is that warmist politicians insist that non-dispatchable wind power gets “first access” to the grid, and gets paid much more than the dispatchable power that remains in spinning reserve to back up the wind power. Only a warmist politician could insist on a scheme that is this ridiculous and fundamentally c0rrupt.
      “Wind power – it doesn’t just blow, it sucks!”
      Wind power is intermittent and non-dispatchable and therefore should be valued much lower than the reliable, dispatchable power typically available from conventional electric power sources such as fossil fuels, hydro and nuclear.
      In practice, one should assume the need for almost 100% conventional backup for wind power (in the absence of a hypothetical grid-scale “super-battery”, which does not exist in practical reality). When wind dies, typically on very hot or very cold days, the amount of wind power generated approaches zero.
      Capacity Factor equals {total actual power output)/(total rated capacity assuming 100% utilization). The Capacity Factor of wind power in Germany equals about 28%*. However, Capacity Factor is not a true measure of actual usefulness of grid-connected wind power. The following paragraph explains why:
      Current government regulations typically force wind power into the grid ahead of conventional power, and pay the wind power producer equal of greater sums for wind power versus conventional power, which artificially makes wind power appear more economic. This practice typically requires spinning backup of conventional power to be instantly available, since wind power fluctuates wildly, reportedly at the cube of the wind speed. The cost of this spinning backup is typically not deducted from the price paid to the wind power producer.
      The true factor that reflects the intermittency of wind power Is the Substitution Capacity*, which is about 5% in Germany – a large grid with a large wind power component. Substitution Capacity is the amount of dispatchable (conventional) power you can permanently retire when you add more wind power to the grid. In Germany they have to add ~20 units of wind power to replace 1 unit of dispatchable power. This is extremely uneconomic.
      I SUGGEST THAT THE SUBSTITUTION CAPACITY OF ~5% IS A REASONABLE FIRST APPROXIMATION FOR WHAT WIND POWER IS REALLY WORTH – that is 1/20th of the value of reliable, dispatchable power from conventional sources. Anything above that 5% requires spinning conventional backup, which makes the remaining wind power redundant and essentially worthless.
      This is a before-coffee first-approximation of the subject. Improvements are welcomed, provided they are well-researched and logical.
      Regards, Allan
      * Reference:
      “E.On Netz excellent Wind Report 2005” at

    • Strawmen bashing? Then the “I want it to be true, therefore it is true” fallacy. And, of course, the “green jobs” fallacy.
      Come on.
      “get good efficiency” => never will happen, physically impossible
      “it doesn’t take up useful land ” => but useful see space
      “lower bad impact on the environment” => no windmills will have no impact
      The society will be much better off without those obscenities.

    • Being cheaper than other offshore wind mills is a pretty low bar there buddy.
      While it may not take up usable land, it just could be taken up usable ocean. We don’t know what other uses that patch of ocean could have been put to.

  27. Floating offshore wind has to be preferable to fixed installations which create dangerous artificial reefs which will pose a serious hazard to shipping for centuries to come.
    “They hear no sound, the swell is strong
    Though the wind has fallen they drift along
    Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock
    Cried they, ‘It is the Inchcape Rock!’”

    • Was that sarcasm?
      Even if the steel used for the foundation isn’t cleaned up, it will rust away in a few decades after maintenance is stopped.
      The concrete portions are on the ocean floor and well below the keels of any ships that might pass by.
      Artificial reefs are being created on purpose all over the world.

  28. Sigh.
    Ocean. Winds, waves, steel, electricity. It all sounds so unlikely to work as planned for other than a brief period of time.

    • What about the D word – decommissioning? The Green lobby are always quick to raise it when nuclear is suggested but I would guess that the life of the average offshore wind turbine is less than that of a nuclear power station.

      • Since it’s floating, I would assume that decommissioning would be cheaper than fixed facilities.
        Just cut the cables and tow it to shore.

  29. this thing costed $9/W.
    Interest for capital cost alone is $0.09/W/year per 1% interest rate. let’s use real low rate for this kind of project. $0.6/Wyear
    If it require maintenance, same calculation: $0.09/W/year per 1% maintenance cost. Yet another $0.6/Wyear
    It it doesn’t work forever, add amortization cost. $0.09/W/year for a century life. $0.03/W/year for 33 years
    total cost per year: $1.5/W/year
    100% nameplate production is at best 8.7 kWh a year. 65% is ~6kWh.
    This thing produce electricity at ~$0.25/kWh.
    Well, this would be easy to check, if they published their accounting. which then won’t of course.

  30. This cost pounds 210 million for 20mw/hr. Thats 10,5 million per mw/hr. Cost of money at 4% is 53 pounds per mwhr but gas price is only 24 and gas plant only costs 20 million???????????????

  31. why do we not have wind powered ships? it has been tried many many times. it should be a natural.
    yet in reality it is cheaper to burn oil than to harvest the wind. you only. need wind power on a boat if it is too small to carry the weight of fuel required to move from one port to the next.
    because while the wind may be free the cost of harvesting the wind and turning it into useful, reliable energy is very high.

  32. The sole source of this is a press release by Statoil, reported by Roger Sowell. It “is powering approximately 20,000 UK households”. I does not say “if the wind is not too weak or too strong”.

  33. The claim of a 65% capacity factor does not appear credible. The number is likely sandbagged by lowering the supposed capacity. If I say my friendly neighborhood nuclear plant is good for fifty MWH per day, I can operate at a bazillion percent capacity factor.

    • That led to the telling fact that German “Eco”-electricity producers got only € 200 million € for their ware last December, but € 2 300 million in subsidies – a relation of 1 : 11.5 .
      In 2017 the wholesale price fluctuated between € 120 and € – 52, depending mainly on the availability of wind.
      Paying others to take electricity off their grids for over 140 hours per year – Germans can be proud of themselves.

    • In 2016 Germany added 50 GW wind-capacity.
      So how much more did they harvest than in 2015?
      The answer is: Nothing, they actually got a little less; the wind didn’t blow enough, although there allegedly was so much more energy in the “warmest year ever” then.

      “Put simply, an onshore wind farm will expect to earn double the wholesale price, and an offshore will triple it.

      According to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the cost of subsidising renewable power this year will amount to £6.0bn. Of this, the Committee on Climate Change estimate that £3.1bn will go to wind farms.
      By 2021, subsidies for wind will have increased to £7.1bn, as capacity grows. This equates to £265 per household.”
      6-7 Billion ponds squandered here, another 6-7 billion wasted there, pretty soon you’re talking real money!
      One wonders what the other £2.9bn pays for – is it for backup power for the wind farms – all those diesel generators that must run when the wind does not blow?
      Or does part of the money pay for advertising campaigns to delude the British public into thinking wind power is actually cost-effective and saves the environment?
      Or does cloudy, rainy Britain also have considerable solar power – for the six days per year when the Sun actually shines?
      It’s “Heat or Eat” for the elderly and the poor in Britain, resulting in Excess Winter Mortality Rates that are several times higher than that of Canada, where energy costs are lower, and homes are centrally-heated AND insulated.
      The warmist elite has taken “granny-bashing” in Britain to a whole new level – just kill off the old bats with excessive energy costs – they are a drain on the economy anyway.

  34. What I detest most about reports like this is the deceit in non-disclosure of real cost. The bottom line is that the cost of renewable energy can only ever be greater than, by orders of magnitude, fossil fuels would be. Add to that the wool pulling about supply. Compared to fossil fuel, it’s an intermittent dribble.

  35. Ivanpah, 2 billion, does not work
    Crescent dunes, 1 billion, does not work
    this one, 210 million, does not work

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