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Equinor to trial safe fishing with floating offshore wind at Hywind Scotland

Equinor and government group Marine Scotland launch investigation on safe fishing around floating offshore wind

Equinor and Marine Scotland hope their trials will help promote safe fishing in floating offshore wind farms around the world (pic credit: Ben Lawson)
Equinor and Marine Scotland hope their trials will help promote safe fishing in floating offshore wind farms around the world (pic credit: Ben Lawson)

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Hywind Scotland’s operator Equinor and Scottish government agency Marine Scotland will work together to better understand how fishers can safely operate around and within floating offshore wind farms. 

In a survey scheduled for 2022, Marine Scotland will test three kinds of fishing gear: creels, fish traps and jigging lines at Hywind Scotland.

While not all of these fishing methods are used commercially around the 30MW Hywind Scotland Hywind Scotland (30MW) Offshoreoff Peterhead, Scotland, UK, Europe Click to see full details project itself, the purpose is to demonstrate how methods used globally can interact with floating offshore wind farms.

Floating turbines are anchored to the seabed via dynamic mooring chains, allowing wind farms to be built in deeper waters.

“Vessel data has shown that fishers are avoiding our floating offshore wind farm,” said Monica Fundingsland, sustainability advisor at Equinor. “So we are working closely with Marine Scotland to better understand how fishers can safely fish within a floating wind farm using a variety of techniques.”

The relationship between offshore wind power and fishing is proving contentious. In the US state of Maine, earlier this month Governor Janet Mills signed into law a bill banning offshore wind farm development in state waters, while the construction of France’s Saint Brieuc project has been scheduled around local fishing demands.

Dr Jared Wilson, renewables and energy programme manager at Marine Scotland, which is responsible for the sustainable management of Scotland’s seas, said: “As home to the world’s first floating offshore wind farm we are very keen to leverage this position to understand more about how fishers can continue to work safely alongside offshore wind.”

Marine Scotland tested some of the equipment in a trial survey last month, in preparation for the full survey scheduled for the second and third quarter of 2022.

Hywind Scotland is the world’s first floating offshore wind farm and began producing electricity in 2017. Since then it has consistently outperformed other UK wind farms.

California dreaming

Elsewhere in floating offshore wind, the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has made progress with plans for sites capable of supporting 4.6GW of capacity

BOEM has decided to determine industry interest in developing offshore wind at two sites in a 1,033km2 area off central California.

The Morro Bay Call Area East and West Extensions are adjacent to the Morro Bay Call Area originally identified by BOEM in 2018. They could support up to 3GW of floating offshore wind capacity, according to the Department of the Interior.

BOEM will accept comments for the Morro Bay sites until 13 September.

It will also proceed with an environmental assessment for the Humboldt Wind Energy Area off the coast of northern California.

The government agency will consider the potential environmental consequences of physical surveys at the site, including installation of meteorological buoys. The area could support a further 1.6GW.

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