The International Energy Agency recently announced that the world is on track to produce 26% of its energy demands from clean, renewable energy sources by the end of the decade. Each of the Scandinavian countries has proudly advertised initiatives to boost their renewable energy-generating capacity, and now Scotland is about to follow suit: its government has declared that it has approved the construction of the U.K.’s first floating offshore wind farm. Not only that, but it’ll be the biggest in the world.
The new development, called Hywind, is to be installed 25 kilometers (16 miles) off Scotland’s easternmost point by the Norwegian energy company Statoil. Five enormous floating turbines will be able to produce 135-gigawatt hours of electricity each year, roughly enough to power 20,000 homes, which will be transported via anchored undersea cables to the Scottish mainland. Despite being a massive construction project, it is relatively inexpensive when it comes to producing energy: a recent report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance suggests that wind power generation is at least as cheap as natural gas power plants.
The announcement comes days after Dong energy decided to construct a sizeable offshore wind farm off the coast of Wales, floating in the Irish Sea. Due to be completed in 2018, this company also declared that it will be the largest offshore wind farm in the world. Hywind is due to be commissioned by 2017, so only time will tell which one turns out to be the record-breaker – either way, this type of competition is only good for those seeking to combat dangerous climate change.
For comparison, a small nuclear power plant in the United States – which is also a non-fossil fuel source of energy – could produce more than 4,000-gigawatt hours of electricity each year approximately, if operating at full capacity. Although both wind power and nuclear power have very low carbon footprints, even a small nuclear power plant produces more energy than the world’s largest offshore wind farm.
Nevertheless, last month, the Energy Technologies Institute released a report concluding that these types of floating wind farms could represent a major part of the U.K.’s energy sector, as a cost-effective form of energy with a low carbon footprint, by 2020.
Morocco has recently announced that it will be able to produce 24/7 electricity using state-of-the-art concentrated solar power technology, joining the increasing number of nations around the world becoming part of the renewable energy revolution. Scotland’s significant contribution to this international initiative will undoubtedly strengthen the resolve of the attendees of the upcoming United Nation’s Climate Change Conference.