SCOTLAND’S first offshore wind underwater substation is set to be built to harness the UK’s biggest wind energy development and power millions of homes with renewable energy.
Aker Offshore Wind has set out its plans for the substation as part of its floating wind proposals which could generate up to 6,000MW of energy in the Outer Moray Firth.
If progressed, the vision would be the UK’s biggest wind energy development and power millions of homes with renewable energy.
The company is hoping to bring forward its multi-million subsea plans which would be developed, manufactured, and supplied in Scotland and provide major export opportunities for Scottish businesses.
Substations – which help move the energy created by wind turbines into homes and businesses – are traditionally installed above sea level but moving them down to the seabed brings several reliability and cost benefits.
The seawater can be used as a natural cooling system, while reliability is increased through stable temperatures, fewer components and no rotating parts. Operational costs can decrease by less maintenance and reduced material use.
The project would be delivered as a part of the ScotWind licensing process, for which Aker Offshore Wind has teamed up with Ocean Winds to submit a series of floating bids.
Aker Solutions, a sister company of Aker Offshore Wind and a key supplier to UK wind projects, is a frontrunner in developing subsea substations and related power system designs. The company would support the delivery of substations from its Aberdeen facilities.
The ScotWind bids for floating offshore turbines allow green energy to be delivered at scale, in deep waters and many miles off coast. The joint bids from Aker Offshore Wind and Ocean Winds will also help Scotland’s economy to transition to renewable energy.
The Aker group of companies, of which Aker Offshore Wind is a part, has supported the energy industry in the UK for more than five decades and has played a key role in the design and deployment of more than half of all semi-submersible offshore installations globally.
In taking offshore wind to deeper waters, Aker Offshore Wind is using its expertise to reduce costs of generating electricity in the harsh seas and rough weather conditions off the UK, contributing to net zero and security of supply.
Around 80 per cent of the world’s wind resources are in waters deeper than 60 metres and are unsuitable for fixed foundations – with floating wind seen as a solution.
Sian Lloyd-Rees, managing director of Aker Offshore Wind UK, said: “This is a world-leading innovation that would be developed, manufactured and supplied in Scotland.
“Both the Aker group and Ocean Winds have the necessary heritage and experience to deliver this at scale.
“We know the benefit is there – it will revolutionise how energy is produced and present Scotland with the opportunity to export genuinely innovative technology to the rest of the world.
“This technology would be supported by tens of millions of investment and work would start next year. “It’s a proven technology that we are now using to ramp up the role of renewables in Scotland.”
She added: “Our vision is for the UK to become a global leader in floating offshore wind, contributing to our net zero mission with green energy at scale.
“Through innovation, we have the opportunity to implement new technology in the ScotWind leasing round, making Scotland and the UK a global leader in subsea solutions for floating offshore wind and exporting the technology around the world.”
Dan Finch, managing director of Ocean Winds UK, said: “Ocean Winds has worked at the cutting edge of technological innovation to deliver world-leading reductions in the cost of offshore wind energy generation at our Moray East project with innovations from foundation construction to turbine interconnection.
“The development of subsea substations is another major step forward in terms of using world leading energy technology from our partners, Aker.
“It will enable construction of windfarms in areas of the seabed which are too deep for fixed substation foundations, therefore facilitating access to cost-effective sites worldwide, even in very deep waters.
“By including this proposal in our Scotwind bid, we can position Scotland at the front of the world’s offshore wind market, with a new, innovative technology, offering the economic opportunities associated with a new product with global demand prospects.
“Our two groups bring together considerable experience of working in the North Sea environment and delivering and operating offshore wind generation, giving us an unrivalled heritage from which to deliver innovation such as this at commercial scale.”
Meanwhile, a Danish company has proposed building what it says would be the world’s largest floating wind farm off the Caithness coast.
Copenhagen Infrastructure Partner said once completed, its project would generate power for about 70,000 homes and would see up to 10 turbines on platforms anchored to the seabed.
The 100MW floating wind farm has been proposed for the Pentland Firth, about four miles off the former Dounreay nuclear power complex near Thurso on the north Caithness coast.
After an initial demonstration turbine is put up, Highland Wind Limited, who will bring forward the project, said work on up to 10 turbines could begin in 2025.