Kincardine’s Record-Breaking Offshore Wind Farm

By Jane Cruickshank / January 25, 2021

IF you have been scanning the horizon, then you may have spotted the arrival of the second large turbine for the Kincardine Offshore Wind Farm.

A relatively small 2 MW unit has been operating at the site since October 2018. Phase 2 is now well underway and, once complete, the wind farm will also boast five large 9.5MW turbines. With a combined capacity of almost 50MW, it will be the world’s biggest floating offshore wind farm.

The array of turbines will sit 15km offshore, in waters 60-80 metres deep. They are expected to generate up to 218GWh of clean electricity a year – enough to power approximately 55,000 Scottish households.

Project now run by Spanish company

Former Scottish Energy Minister and Deputy First Minister of Scotland, Lord Nicol Stephen, is one of the driving forces behind the project. He co-founded Pilot Offshore Renewables Ltd with Allan MacAskill, who conceived and developed the Beatrice demonstrator project in 2003.

Pilot, who spawned Kincardine Offshore Windfarm Ltd in a joint venture with engineering consultancy Atkins, is now majority-owned by Spanish infrastructure engineering company Grupo Cobra.

Last June, Cobra Wind International secured a £380 million green loan financing for the wind farm’s construction.

European and American expertise involved in project

The eye-catching turbines sit upon ‘WindFloat’ floating foundations designed by Californian company Principle Power. These semi-submersbible structures are being built by Spanish joint venture Navantia-Windar at their shipyard in Fene, Spain.

Foundations complete – it’s then time to call in the Dutch shipping heavyweight Boskalis, whose semisubmersible transport vessel Fjord takes the triangular foundations to Rotterdam, where the turbines are mounted.

And those 160m diameter turbines are produced by Danish maker MHI Vestas Offshore Wind A/S. Vestas describe their V164-9.5 MW giants as ”the most powerful turbine in use at a floating wind project”.

The first 9.5 MW turbine on our horizon was a landmark for the company, as it was the first of its type installed on a floating wind project.

Sea voyage takes each turbine to its installation site

The 480 nautical-mile-long journey of each turbine to our coastline is mapped on a notice to mariners, with the latest issued on January 11.

Interestingly, before any of the infrastructure was put in place, the area was checked for unexploded ordinance by the Dutch clearance vessel Noordhoek Pathfinder.

The project does not feature an offshore substation, as the wind turbines will be connected directly to the grid at Redmoss onshore substation via two transmission lines.

And it was to Italy the project looked to supply the necessary sub-sea cable system – Prysmian Group hailed their involvement as it ‘first cable project for a floating offshore wind farm”.

A triumph for renewable energy

So Stonehaven will shortly boast an offshore wind farm that is a world record project with many technical firsts.

And, as the Scottish Government website states: ”Renewable and low carbon energy will provide the foundation of our future energy system, offering Scotland a huge opportunity for economic and industrial growth.”

Previously in The Bellman: