Sunday, April 02, 2017

Unique Project in Scotland:  New Floating NearShore Wind Farm Needs No Permit

Mike Parr, Director of independent energy consultancy PWR, has developed a unique near-shore floating offshore wind farm project in the Firth of Clyde off the western coast of Scotland.  Thanks to its design as a vessel at mooring, writes Parr, the farm does not require any planning permits, and thanks to its low cost, it does not need subsidies. The first of these floating wind turbines will be installed this month north of Turnberry golf course.  Donald Trump, owner of the golf course, will no doubt appreciate the lower regulatory burden involved in this type of project, writes Parr.

Artist impression of floating wind turbines seen from Turnberry golf course. (Credit: Gijs Beckman) Click to Enlarge.
The trend with respect to off-shore wind turbines has been to site very large off-shore farms long distances out to sea.  This is done for two reasons, stronger and often more reliable winds and minimization of visual impact. However, there is an argument for having near-shore turbines in locations that benefit from the funneling effect that estuaries often have.

In the case of the UK, locations such as the Bristol Channel and the Firth of Clyde both exhibit strong funneling effects – further into the estuary wind speeds rise (a problem for crossings such as the two Severn bridges).

Another feature of off-shore wind projects is the relatively onerous planning application process, coupled to the fact that fees have to be paid (in the UK) for seabed use to what is prosaically called “The Crown Estate” which funnels the fees to the Queen.

However, I have found that there is one class of sea faring object that does not have to pay significant fees (in Scotland) and these are vessels at moorings.  There is a fee for the mooring, but it is not significant.  What is more, vessels are not subject to planning permits.

For a wind farm to fulfill these conditions, it would need to be a floating structure.  Floating turbines have only recently begun to be built for deep waters, e.g. Vattenfall’s Hywind pilot project off the coast of Peterhead, Scotland, but PWR has now developed the first floating near-shore turbines.

Read more at Unique Project in Scotland:  New Floating NearShore Wind Farm Needs No Permit

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