Construction of the world’s largest floating wind farm will now begin off the Aberdeenshire coast, following the Crown Estate granting a lease to the Norwegian multinational oil and gas company Statoil.

It is scheduled to begin generating electricity by the end of next year.

The Hywind project will see five 6MW turbines deployed in deeper water than any previous offshore wind turbines around the UK coast. They will be at a site called Buchan Deep, and the closest turbine to the shore will be less than 16 miles from Peterhead.

The technology has been tested by Statoil (largest shareholder the Norwegian Government) in a demonstration project off the coast of Norway.

Rather than using fixed foundations on or in the seabed to support the wind turbines, the Hywind project consists of a floating steel tube filled with ballast, which is fastened to the seabed.

The project was given planning consent from Marine Scotland last October and Statoil has taken the final investment decision to proceed with the project. Preliminary on-shore and near-shore works will start later this year and erection of the turbines is due to begin in 2017, with first power being generated towards the end of the year.

Leif Delp, Project Director for the Hywind Scotland project said:

“We are very pleased to develop this project in Scotland, in a region with a huge wind resource and an experienced supply chain from oil and gas. Through the hard work of industry and supportive government policies, the UK and Scotland is taking a position at the forefront of developing offshore wind as a competitive new energy source.”

Ronnie Quinn, General Manager of The Crown Estate’s Scotland Portfolio said: “We have been working closely with Statoil, Scottish Government and other partners to help bring forward this innovative project which helps consolidate the position of Scotland and the UK as a global leader in the offshore renewables sector.

“Hywind is the first of its kind in the world. Its successful operation will demonstrate the viability of floating wind in deep water locations and bring forward cost reduction techniques that will move the whole sector forward."

He said the development of emerging technologies, from floating wind to tidal current energy, had placed Scotland in a very strong position to secure global investment in low carbon energy.

Lindsay Roberts, Senior Policy Manager at industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “The granting of Hywind’s lease marks an important milestone for the project. Floating offshore wind is an exciting technology with huge, global potential, and it’s great to have this world first in Scottish waters.”