Swedish energy giant Vattenfall announced Tuesday that it successfully installed an 8.8-megawatt capacity offshore wind turbine from Vestas at the European Offshore Wind Deployment Center (EOWDC) off the coast of Scotland.
It’s the first of 11 turbines planned for the project and the first deployment of a model of that size for commercial use. Vattenfall will also install another 8.8-megawatt model from Vestas at the site.
It's an important milestone for a project that faced years of legal challenges from Donald Trump. Before becoming president, Trump battled the project because it conflicted with a planned golf course development in the area. At the time, his organization said it “will completely destroy the bucolic Aberdeen Bay.” The U.K.’s Supreme Court struck down Trump’s challenge in 2015.
Now, Vattenfall will use the site to test the high-capacity turbines. For the two 8.8-megawatt turbines, enhanced internal power modes bumped capacity up from 8.4 megawatts on MHI Vestas’ flagship V164 turbine platform.
Søren Lassen, a business analyst at MAKE Consulting, said the uprating trend is noteworthy, but the 0.4 megawatt increase is not revolutionary. He noted that MHI Vestas already has orders for a 9.5-megawatt version of its V164 platform turbine launched in June.
“The trend of uprating is symptomatic of the offshore wind market in Europe, as developers push to take advantage of the favorable wind resources,” said Lassen. “Turbine [manufacturers] will continue to boost the rating of their current offshore platforms into the early 2020s.”
Turbines, offshore and onshore, will just keep getting bigger. The MHI Vestas turbines have a tip height of 191 meters and 80-meter-long blades. Looking beyond 2020, MAKE projects the U.K. market will lead offshore turbine capacity growth, with the average rating nearing 12 megawatts by the end of 2024.
According to EOWDC Project Director at Vattenfall, Adam Ezzamel, "just one rotation of the blades can power the average U.K. home for a day.”
With an installed capacity of 93.2 megawatts, Vattenfall said the entire facility will produce 312 gigawatt-hours per year, enough to power nearly 80,000 homes and meet 23 percent of Aberdeen’s total electricity demand. It will displace 134,128 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Vattenfall has a goal to excise fossil fuels from its portfolio within one generation.
The European Union threw €40 million (about $49.3 million) behind the plant.
The announcement out of Scotland comes just days after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke proposed offshore wind lease sales for 390,000 acres off the coast of Massachusetts.
Those sales are part of the “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy” executive order that Trump signed last April.
“The Trump administration supports an all-of-the-above energy policy and using every tool available to achieve American energy dominance,” said Zinke when announcing the proposed wind sales.
The 2017 executive order was meant to overturn an Obama directive that closed parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans to oil and gas exploration. It’s now facing court challenges over whether Trump has the authority to overturn Obama’s protections.
The Europeans are taking a different approach to offshore energy development.
“The EOWDC, through its innovative approach to cost reduction and pioneering technologies, leads the industry drive toward generating clean and competitive wind energy power — one that will reinforce Scotland’s global energy status,” said Gunnar Groebler of Vattenfall's wind unit.