One of the biggest oil companies in Scotland has a plan to do something way cooler than offshore drilling with their drilling sites: They just got approval to build the world's largest floating, offshore windfarm in the sea.
According to a report from The Guardian, the Statoil company will build five floating wind turbines -- enough to power nearly 20,000 homes -- in the sea off the coast of Peterhead, which is the easternmost point in mainland Scotland.
Wind turbines work by harnessing the power of the wind to turn the blades, which then turn a generator to produce electricity. They're especially effective when placed in the ocean because there's nothing to block strong, consistent winds like there is on land. Floating turbines actually do float, but are moored to the sea bed by cables that carry the electricity to shore and allow the turbines to be placed in deeper waters so that they can pick up stronger winds and be hidden from view of the shore.
The Guardian report noted that recent research has indicated that "floating offshore wind could be a credible, cost-effective form of low-carbon energy for the UK by the mid-2020’s." Scotland has set a goal to get 100% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
Scotland's Deputy first minister, John Swinney, told the Guardian that having a major oil and gas company complete this work is smart, since it allows the country to "leverage existing infrastructure and supply chain capabilities from the offshore oil and gas industry" to source sustainable energy instead of fossil fuels.
Floating wind farms have gained popularity in Europe in recent years. The U.S. doesn't have any as of yet, but there are currently several in the works off the coasts of Oregon, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.