Equinor Plans to Deploy New Floating Wind Foundation Offshore Scotland

Equinor plans to deploy a new floating foundation design offshore Scotland if the company comes out as one of the seabed lease winners in the ScotWind auction and builds its proposed 1 GW floating wind project.

The Wind Semi, a semisubmersible wind turbine foundation, has been designed with flexibility, specifically to allow for fabrication and assembly based on local supply chain capabilities, the developer said.

The concept has several features making it particularly suited for harsh waters, and solutions that can maximise the opportunities for the Scottish supply chain, according to Equinor.

By introducing a passive ballast system, the Wind Semi has a simple substructure design, reducing the risk of system failure and the amount of maintenance needed, according to Equinor.

Its flat plate design is free from bracings, heave plates and complicated nodes that are prone to fatigue cracking, and enables the substructure to be built in blocks that can either be fabricated locally and/or shipped from other locations. 

With a harbour draught of less than 10 metres, the Wind Semi’s turbine integration can be assembled at most industrialised ports, the company said.

Equinor highlighted that it was technology agnostic and would select the best suited floating wind concept for its projects, with water depths, conditions around shipyards and ports, and the specialisations and capacity of the local supply chain being primary drivers for selecting a given design.

“Selecting the most cost-efficient concept design and achieving optimal fabrication efficiency is key to competitive full-scale floating wind parks. In Scotland, Equinor will actively work to develop a broader and more competitive supply chain that can efficiently and effectively deliver a ScotWind floating projects safely, on time, and on budget. In particular, Equinor will work closely with the domestic supply chains in Scotland and rest of the UK to maximise the opportunities for local suppliers and local communities”, the company stated in a press release on 1 November.

Equinor confirmed it was bidding in the ScotWind auction this July, saying this was a good strategic fit with its ambitions to continue to develop its North Sea offshore wind cluster and further deepen its presence across the UK.

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The company installed the first ever floating offshore wind turbine in 2009, and operates the 30 MW Hywind Scotland, the world’s first floating wind farm.

In March of this year, Equinor reported that the wind farm had reached the highest average capacity factor for any wind farm in the UK for its third consecutive year and set a new record in the country.

During its first two years of operation, the wind farm achieved an average capacity factor of 54 per cent, which compares to an offshore wind average in the UK of around 40 per cent.

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“Hywind Scotland proved that the floating concept works, and as we move to the next generation floating offshore wind projects, we need to demonstrate that floating offshore wind is deployable at scale, in different geographies cost effectively whilst bringing local benefits. We have seen the journey of fixed bottom offshore wind, and combined with our long experience in floating, we can take learnings into account as we design and innovate the concepts for full-scale GW floating wind farms”, says Sonja C. Indrebø, Equinor’s vice president of Floating Offshore Wind. 

Photo: Equinor