Wind innovation in action

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Scotland’s energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse MSP (pictured), yesterday took a demonstration tour aboard the Sea Puffin, the world’s first 'daughter craft' based on Surface-Effect-Ship technology. This innovative design uses air cushion technology to dampen out motions in rough seas, enhancing comfort for crew and passengers. This allows for improved access to offshore wind turbines in harsh weather conditions, at the same time saving fuel consumption.

The development of the Sea Puffin 1 has been supported through the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator, a collaborative research and innovation programme part-funded by the Scottish Government, with remaining funding coming directly from nine offshore wind developers. The 15-metre long daughter craft – designed by the Norwegian company, ESNA – can be launched from aboard a larger mother ship. It is owned and operated by WindPartner, a company that specialises in operations & maintenance for the offshore wind industry.

After the vessel’s successful first stage of trials in Denmark, the second phase is looking at performance in more exposed offshore conditions that are typically found further out to sea. These are being conducted at Equinor and Masdar’s Hywind Scotland Pilot Park, the world’s first commercial floating offshore wind farm, located 25 kilometres off the coast of Peterhead in Aberdeenshire.

 Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, said: “I’m delighted that Sea Puffin has been supported through the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator, which was part-funded by the Scottish government. Mechanisms like this help support and grow the renewables sector.

“Having been out on a vessel, I have to say it was a very smooth and enjoyable experience. Given the weather conditions Scottish seas can experience the Sea Puffin will clearly bring benefits to those needing to visit or access offshore wind farms with consequential benefits for operation and maintenance activities.

On top of that, they’ll make savings on fuel costs through operating as a ‘daughter-craft’ and this could become particularly important as we explore development of sites further offshore around Scotland’s coasts. ”