This January, my colleague Sean Mahoney and I met with representatives of Statoil – one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world – to discuss the company’s plan to develop a floating wind turbine project, known as Hywind, off the Maine Coast. Statoil was also considering a location off the coast of Scotland. Recently, the company decided to move ahead with the initial stages of evaluating the potential for the project in the Gulf of Maine. Specifically, Statoil will evaluate the economic and environmental feasibility of a4 turbine array roughly 12 nautical miles from Boothbay in 460 to 520 feet of water.
A Norwegian company, Statoil is also one of the first energy companies to make a sizeable investment is the field of offshore wind. In 2009, Statoil launched the first floating turbine off the coast of Norway to test how wind and waves affect the structure. Since startup in 2010, that turbine generated 15 MHw of electricity..
The Statoil floating wind turbine consists of a turbine mounted on a floating steel cylinder filled with a ballast of water and rocks that extends 100 meters beneath the ocean surface and is attached by a three-point mooring spread. Floating turbines can generate electricity further offshore, in locations that minimize visual impacts, accommodate existing fishing uses and shipping lanes, and have consistent and stronger wind flow. They can also be clustered together to take advantage of common infrastructure such as power transmission facilities.
As an initial step forward on Hywind, Statoil will hold a series of public open houses regarding the project later this month. (For a calendar of these meetings, click here.) The company told CLF it intends to determine whether the Hywind Maine project is feasible by year end 2012, make a final investment decision in 2014, and potentially be installing the floating turbines in 2016.
The schedule of Statoil’s public introductory meetings is:
June 25, 2012:
Boothbay – Boothbay Firehouse (4 – 7pm)
911 Wiscasset Road, Boothbay, Maine
June 26, 2012:
Rockland – Rockland Public Library (5:30-8pm)
80 Union Street, Rockland, Maine
June 27, 2012:
Portland – Gulf of Maine Research Institute (4 – 7pm)
350 Commercial Street, Portland, Maine
All sessions will be in Open House format so individuals can speak to Statoil team members.
For more information, please contact: