The future of offshore wind is afloat

Freeing wind power from bottom-fixed designs opens a world of new markets and opportunities. With tried and tested floating wind turbines already in production, we are the world’s leading floating offshore wind developer — a position we intend to keep.

Floating turbines can be placed almost anywhere where the water is deeper than 60 metres, harnessing the best wind resources and opening new sites to power generation.

We believe that floating offshore wind is the next wave in renewable energy – and that our offshore experience from the North Sea and around the world makes us uniquely qualified to lead the way and further develop floating offshore wind.

Why floating wind? 

  • Winds are stronger and more consistent further out to sea
  • Close to 80% of the world’s offshore wind resource potential is in waters deeper than 60 metres
  • Winds are stronger and more consistent further out to sea
  • Floating wind can potentially power 12 million homes in Europe by 2030
  • Removing water depth constraints allows us to select the best sites in the world
  • Floating wind has a higher capacity factor thanks to better wind further offshore
  • Our goal is that floating wind be competitive with other forms of energy by the year 2030
  • We expect floating offshore wind to be the next big breakthrough in renewables.

How do wind turbines float?

How do our wind turbines float? And why don’t they capsize in a storm?

  • Most wind turbines today are fixed to the seabed, so-called bottom-fixed, in waters less than 60 metres deep
  • The next generation of offshore wind turbines are designed to float further out to sea, where winds are stronger, but the water depths make bottom-fixed designs uneconomic
  • Most offshore wind floater designs are familiar from the oil and gas industry. Hywind is based on a spar buoy design and its great stability is provided by gravity. Semisubmersible floaters rely on buoyancy instead, while TLP are stabilized by the tension in the mooring system
  • Floating wind turbines are moored to the seabed with multiple mooring lines and anchors, in much the same way that a floating oil platform is moored
  • Equinor's proprietary floating wind turbine motion controller uses sensors and computers to regulate the turbine blades in relation to the wind gusts, dampening tower movements, reducing strain on the moorings and maximising electricity production.

Illustration: Shematic diagram and map of Hywind Scotland.

Our floating offshore wind technology

Today, floating offshore wind is a viable and mature solution ready for market. We believe in a rapid acceleration in growth—just as we have witnessed in other wind and renewable technologies. Together with the industry, we aim to make it a competitive renewable energy source.

As a technology-agnostic developer, we will select the substructures and designs for our floating wind installations best suited to the local conditions where they will be used.

Our experience with the Hywind demo floating wind turbine and the Hywind Scotland wind farm has given us valuable experience to build on. Now we are developing the first wind farm in the North Sea, Hywind Tampen, to power offshore oil and gas installations. See below for more details. 

The Hywind design
Hywind is a great example of what we can achieve by combining our existing offshore expertise with new and available technologies and innovative minds. Thoroughly proven through years of testing, it is the world’s most viable floating wind turbine design, consisting of a giant wind turbine placed on top of a floating vertical spar.

Hywind is a unique offshore wind technology, consisting of a mix of available technology and new patents developed and owned by Equinor.

Hywind is the most established design of floating turbine today, verified through eight years of successful operations of our demo turbine offshore Karmøy, Norway, and subsequently further optimised for the Hywind Scotland wind farm. 

With its simplicity of design, Hywind offers a range of advantages:

  • Most proven technology
  • Conventional technology used in a new way
  • Simple substructure construction with potential for standardisation and lower fabrication cost
  • Beneficial motion characteristics and a patented blade pitch control to dampen out motions
  • Robust and suitable for harsh conditions
  • Data and experience collected from 10 years of successful operation.