Floating offshore wind reaching maturity

Floating offshore wind projects have « come of age » with several projects representing hundreds of megawatts (MW) of power now under way.

The first of numerous large-scale demonstration projects will be commissioned later this year. Another two are coming in 2018. Industry group WindEurope has reported that the technology behind floating offshore wind has reached maturity and that « costs are also predicted to plummet in the coming years. »

« Floating offshore wind is no longer an R&D exercise, » said Ivan Pineda, WindEurope Director for Public Affairs. « The technology has developed rapidly in recent years and it is now ready to be fully commercialised at utility-scale projects. Adding this option to the market means more offshore wind in total. And it’s this extra capacity that we will need to meet the 2030 goals. »

Projects in development

Industrial Info is tracking the leading floating offshore windfarm projects under way, including:

  • Hywind Scotland–30 MW–Scotland, 2017
  • Kincardine–48 MW–Scotland, from 2018
  • Dounreay Tri–2 x 5 MW–Scotland, 2018
  • WindFloat Atlantic–30 MW–Portugal, 2018-2019
  • Atlantis/Ideol project–100 MW–U.K., 2021

Growth potential

The floating offshore wind sector offers a « vast potential for growth, » said WindEurope. 80% of all the offshore wind resource is located in waters 60 metres and deeper in European seas, where traditional bottom-fixed offshore technology is too expensive to deploy.

« One of the key advantages of floating offshore wind is that turbines are located further away from shores in areas with higher average wind speeds without depth constraints, » WindEurope stated. « Turbines can be significantly larger on floating installations. Additionally construction, installation, operation and maintenance costs could be lower than on fixed sites. Capacity can thus be improved, leading to an increased generation of electricity, allowing for cost reductions of 10% by 2020 and 25% by 2030. »

Scotland’s Kincardine project

Last March, Scottish government gave the green light to the development of one the largest floating offshore wind projects in the world, the 50-MW Kincardine Offshore Windfarm Project. This windfarm will be capable of supplying enough power for roughly 56,000 homes when it is commissioned in 2019. Located 15 kilometres southeast of Aberdeen, it will cost an estimated £250 million and is being developed by joint venture company Kincardine Offshore Windfarm Limited, formed by Pilot Offshore Renewables and Atkins.

Source: Industrial Info Resources – 15 June 2017