Construction work on Europe’s largest floating wind farm will begin later this year after the Crown Estate granted a lease to Norwegian multinational Statoil.
The Hywind project will see five turbines operate in waters around 12-18 miles off the coast of Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.
The project, with a total capacity of 30 megawatts, secured consent from Marine Scotland in October but the Crown Estate manages leasing of the seabed and Statoil had to meet planning, finance and legal requirements to be given the green light.
The company’s onshore work will begin later this year with the turbines due to be erected in 2017 and the first power generated at the end of next year.
A floating steel tube tethered to the seabed will be the foundation for the turbines.
Project director Leif Delp said: “We are very pleased to develop this project in Scotland, in a region with a huge wind resource and an experienced supply chain from oil and gas.
“Through the hard work of industry and supportive government policies, the UK and Scotland is taking a position at the forefront of developing offshore wind as a competitive new energy source.”
Ronnie Quinn, general manager of the Crown Estate in Scotland, said: “We have been working closely with Statoil, Scottish Government and other partners to help bring forward this innovative project which helps consolidate the position of Scotland and the UK as a global leader in the offshore renewables sector.
“Hywind is the first of its kind in the world. Its successful operation will demonstrate the viability of floating wind in deep water locations and bring forward cost reduction techniques that will move the whole sector forward.
“By working to share best practice and deploying our expertise in seabed leasing, we’ve been able to support the development of emerging technologies, from floating wind to tidal current energy, placing Scotland in a very strong position to secure global investment in low carbon energy.”
WWF Scotland also welcomed the news.
The director of WWF Scotland, Lang Banks, said: “Successfully developing floating turbines could enable Scotland to secure even more clean energy from offshore wind in the future.
“With the right political support for offshore wind and other technologies, Scotland is well placed to become the EU’s first renewable electricity nation.
“However, if this is to happen then the forthcoming review of Scotland’s energy strategy must also include steps to improve energy efficiency, manage demand, and increase energy storage as well as interconnectors.”