Equinor offices pictured in February 2019. Equinor is one of many companies looking to develop floating wind farms.
Odin Jäger | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A facility described as the world’s largest floating wind farm generated its first power over the weekend, with more turbines expected to come online before the end of the year.
In a statement released on Monday, the Norwegian energy company Equine – best known for his work in the oil and gas industry – said power generation from Hywind Tampen’s first wind turbine took place on Sunday afternoon.
While wind is a renewable energy source, Hywind Tampen will be used to help power operations in oil and gas fields in the North Sea. Equinor said the first electricity from Hywind Tampen was sent to the Gullfaks oil and gas field.
“I am proud that we have now started production at Hywind Tampen, Norway’s first floating wind farm and the largest in the world,” said Geir Tungesvik, Equinor’s Executive Vice President for Projects, Drilling and Development. ‘supply.
“This is a unique project, the world’s first wind farm powering oil and gas production facilities.”
Hywind Tampen is located approximately 140 kilometers (86.9 miles) off the coast of Norway, at depths ranging from 260 to 300 meters.
Seven of the wind farm’s turbines are expected to enter service in 2022, with installation of the remaining four taking place in 2023. When complete, Equinor says it will have a system capacity of 88 megawatts.
Alongside Equinor, other companies involved in the project are Vår Energi, INPEX Idemitsu, Petoro, Wintershall Dea and OMV.
Equinor said Hywind Tampen is expected to supply around 35% of the electricity demand from the Gullfaks and Snorre fields. “This will reduce CO2 emissions from the fields by around 200,000 tonnes per year,” the company added.
Using a floating wind farm to help power fossil fuel production is likely to spark controversy, however.
The effect of fossil fuels on the environment is considerable and the United Nations states that since the 19th century “human activities have been the main driver of climate change, mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas”.
Speaking at the COP27 climate change summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, last week, the UN secretary-general issued a stark warning to participants.
“We are in the fight of our lives and we are losing,” said Antonio Guterres. “Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, global temperatures continue to rise, and our planet is rapidly approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible.”
An emerging industry
Equinor said the Hywind Tampen turbines were installed on a floating concrete structure, with a common mooring system. One of the advantages of floating turbines is that they can be installed in deeper water than those with a fixed bottom.
In 2017, Equinor started operations at Hywind Scotland, a five-turbine, 30 MW facility it calls the world’s first floating wind farm.
Since then, a number of large companies have made strides in the sector.
In August 2021, RWE Renewables and Kansai Electric Power signed an agreement to assess the feasibility of a “large-scale floating offshore wind project” in waters off the coast of Japan.
In September of the same year, the Norwegian company Statkraft announced a long-term purchase agreement for a 50 MW floating wind farm – which it also dubbed the “largest in the world” – off Aberdeen, in Scotland.
And a few months later, in December 2021, plans for three major offshore wind developments in Australia – two of which seek to incorporate floating wind technology – were announced.
Earlier this year, meanwhile, the White House has said it is aiming for 15 gigawatts of floating offshore wind capacity by 2035.
“The Biden-Harris administration is launching coordinated actions to develop new floating offshore wind platforms, an emerging clean energy technology that will help the United States take the lead in offshore wind,” a statement also said. released by the US Department of the Interior. at the time.
In addition to the 15 GW ambition, a “Floating Offshore Wind Shot” aims to reduce the costs of floating technologies by more than 70% by 2035.
“Scaling floating offshore wind technology will open up new opportunities for offshore wind power off the coasts of California and Oregon, in the Gulf of Maine and beyond,” the statement added. .