Floating wind farm to be installed off Peterhead
A floating offshore wind farm will be installed in the North Sea off the coast of Peterhead after the Scottish government gave it consent.
Norwegian energy firm Statoil has been granted a licence for the pilot scheme of five turbines.
They will be attached to the seabed by a three-point mooring spread and anchoring system, making them easy to install in deep water.
It is expected that the Hywind project could power up to 19,900 homes.
The turbines will transport electricity via an export cable from the pilot park to the shore at Peterhead in Aberdeenshire just over 15 miles (25km) away.
The pilot project is designed to demonstrate the technology on a commercial scale, according to Statoil.
Construction is planned to start as early as next year with final commissioning in 2017, according the company.
Currently offshore wind turbines are rigidly attached to the seabed which makes them difficult and expensive to install in deep water.
The Carbon Trust believes that floating wind concepts have the potential to reduce generating costs to below £100/MWh in commercial deployments, with the leading concepts such as Hywind producing even lower costs of £85-£95MWh.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney described Hywind as a "hugely exciting project in terms of electricity generation and technology innovation".
He said: "It's a real testament to our energy sector expertise and skilled workforce that Statoil chose Scotland for the world's largest floating wind farm.
"The momentum is building around the potential for floating offshore wind technology to unlock deeper water sites.
"The ability to leverage existing infrastructure and supply chain capabilities from the offshore oil and gas industry creates the ideal conditions to position Scotland as a world leader in floating wind technology."
Statoil's executive vice president for New Energy Solutions, Irene Rummelhoff, said floating wind technology represented "a new, significant and increasingly competitive renewable energy source".
She added: "Statoil's objective with developing this pilot park is to demonstrate a commercial, utility-scale floating wind solution, to further increase the global market potential.
"We are proud to develop this unique project in Scotland, in a region that has optimal wind conditions, a strong supply chain within oil and gas and supportive public policies."
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks welcomed the granting of the licence.
He 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 renewable technologies, Scotland is well placed to become the EU's first renewable electricity nation by 2030."