Floating windfarm riding waves off Scotland’s coast

The world’s first floating windfarm is now fully commissioned and delivering green electricity to Scotland’s grid. It is called the Kincardine Offshore Windfarm Ltd. (KOWL) 

An ode to my Scottish heritage and known among the world’s bravest inventors: Scotland has just launched the world’s first floating wind farm. Well it was launched a few years earlier but now is officially fully comissioned. I’ve travelled the coast of Scotland and seen onshore windfarms. Not all the locals like them. Are floating wind farms our future?

The 50 MW Kincardine Offshore Windfarm or KOWL – is located 15 km off the coast of Aberdeenshire, in water depths ranging from 60m to 80m.

It takes a multitude of businesses to build a renewable energy farm of any kind and wind energy is no different. The project consists of five Vestas V164-9.5 MW and one V80-2 MW turbine, each installed on WindFloat semi-submersible platforms designed by Principle Power.  

The Kincardine project was started back in 2014 by Allan MacAskill and Lord Nicol Stephen, now both directors of Flotation Energy plc. In 2016 Cobra Group became the main investor in Kincardine Offshore Windfarm Ltd. (KOWL). But before that in 2012 we wrote about Hexagon, a floating wind farm that was to be floating off the coast of Malta. Turns out according to Cleantechnica that Hexagon is still plugging away despite KOWL being the first.  

floating wind farm, how they work, KOWL scotland

How floating windfarms work

Cobra Wind, a subsidiary of Cobra Group, has been responsible for delivery of the project, including engineering, construction, installation and commissioning.

In addition to being the largest floating windfarm in the world, the development also features another first, using the highest capacity wind turbines ever installed on floating platforms. 

Kincardine will generate over 200 GWh of green electricity a year, enough renewable electricity to power more than 50,000 Scottish households. I can just see my wee cousins making cups of tea sitting in front of their tellies — powered by the wind. 

Jaime Altolaguirre, KOWL Project Director from Cobra, a partner of the project said: “The completion of Kincardine comes at a pivotal time in determining Scotland’s leadership in the floating offshore sector. Kincardine offshore windfarm has shown that the largest and most advanced wind turbines available can be installed on floating platforms in the challenging North Sea environment.

“The project proves that floating wind can play a vital role in tackling climate change not only in Scotland and the UK, but also around the world.”

The Kincardine team has also announced the selection of Aberdeen as its operations and maintenance base. 

“The Kincardine project shows how boundaries of offshore wind technology are constantly being pushed forward. We have once again demonstrated that the world’s most powerful turbines can be installed on floating substructures,” said Nils de Baar, President, Vestas Central & Northern Europe: 

“We stand ready for the next phase of commercial scale floating offshore wind. With appropriate policy and regulations, floating technology offers the UK an opportunity to expand its global leadership position in offshore wind and build further opportunities for the domestic supply chain. We are proud to be part of the pioneering Kincardine project.”

So who is next? Lebanon, Israel and Egypt on the gentle Mediterranean or Saudi Arabia floating wind farms on the Red Sea in their futuristic city Neom?  


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