Unlocking a multi-gigawatt (GW) pipeline for global floating wind market

The partnership can boast some illustrious names in the offshore energy business The partnership can boast some illustrious names in the offshore energy business
Industry Database

A new report released by the Floating Wind Joint Industry Project (Floating Wind JIP) outlines the key technology challenges and priority innovation needs for the sector to reach cost parity with other energy technologies.

The report is a summary of key findings from the first phase of technical projects delivered in 2017 and was officially launched by the Scottish Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, at the All-Energy Conference in Glasgow in May.

Despite only 50MW of floating wind power being installed globally, the nascent sector is already gearing up for large-scale commercial projects that could reach multiple gigawatts of installed power by the end of the next decade. The increased scale of deployment will bring new challenges that require innovative solutions to de-risk the technology and reduce costs. The Floating Wind JIP has been established to accelerate the development of these solutions, starting with a focus on electrical systems, mooring systems, and logistics for construction and operation. The findings from these studies have seeded four new projects, recently kicked off in 2018.

Among the key findings, a study on electrical system requirements delivered by Petrofac identified the lack of suitable dynamic cables to export power back to shore as a significant bottleneck. In response, the Carbon Trust has recently kicked off a project that will aim to accelerate the development of high voltage dynamic power cables (>132kV). Qualification of electrical equipment for floating substations is another key requirement.

An assessment of mooring systems led by Ramboll identified several learnings from the oil and gas industry, but also highlighted the need for dedicated solutions for the floating wind sector. In particular, synthetic mooring line materials offer potential cost savings compared to conventional steel chain or wire moorings, if de-risked for long-term application.

Infrastructure and logistics will be critical to cost reduction efforts and opening new markets for offshore wind power. A study led by London Offshore Consultants (LOC) assessed the requirements and methods to construct and operate a 500MW floating wind farm, highlighting the importance of adopting serial manufacturing processes.

A final study to be delivered in 2018 will investigate turbine design requirements and the impact of large next generation turbines (10-15MW capacity) on floating foundations.

By Jake Frith

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