Westwood Global Energy Group (Westwood) has revealed that of the 121 GW worth of floating offshore wind projects that the company is currently tracking using its WIndLogix intelligence software, close to 15 GW of floating wind capacity is expected to come online by 2030.
Westwood says that 15 GW of capacity will account for four per cent of the total 2030 offshore wind installed base with the other 96 per cent being fixed-bottom wind turbines.
On a regional basis, Europe accounts for 66 per cent of the global pipeline and will also account for 61 per cent of 2030 installed capacity.
According to RenewableUK’s latest EnergyPulse market intelligence data report, the UK has the biggest pipeline of floating projects in the world at 32 GW while more are planned as part of ScotWind and in the Celtic Sea.
Other regional markets such as Australia, South Korea, and the USA are showing interest as well, says Westwood, alongside Japan which expects its first floating offshore wind farm to be commissioned in 2024.
Alex Gauntt, Supply Chain director at Cierco Energy, emphasised that floating wind will be largely driven by the opportunity to deploy offshore wind solutions in more areas.
“It opens a whole new landscape as it can, in theory, be located anywhere offshore. Not every region has shallow coastal waters, hence floating wind allows for deployment in deeper waters. Southeast Asia for example, would be driven by this factor”, added Gauntt.
There are other benefits of floating wind says Gauntt such as the lower environmental impact, employment prospects, and transfer of existing skills and technology from the oil and gas sector. For certain concepts construction and maintenance could also take place onshore, potentially lowering risks and costs.
Oil & Gas Technologies Could Facilitate Floating Wind Development
Floating offshore wind structures are heavily dependent on the innovative technology developed for oil and gas (O&G), says Westwood.
Floating designs could be broadly developed from O&G technologies such as semisubmersibles, barges, tension leg platforms (TLPs), and spar buoys.
Oil and gas skills are also transferable to offshore renewables, says Westwood.
The technical knowledge and skillsets required, for example, in the maintenance and repair of floating structures are not dissimilar to subsea structures, therefore providing a chance to bring resources over from the subsea sector to manage prospective labour shortages.
A country that sees that is the UK which plans to launch a cross-industry digital passport for the offshore energy workforce in the third quarter of 2023.
Installing Floating Wind Farms Could Be Challenging
According to Westwood’s analysis, the majority of floating wind projects (68 per cent) are being proposed or led by developers that do not have offshore wind experience.
A further 21 per cent have a fixed-bottom track record only and the remaining eleven per cent is led by developers that have a floating wind track record.
Installing floating wind farms is challenging and could cause headaches, says Westwood.
For deeper waters, floating turbines will likely be installed on foundations at the quayside. It would be cheaper to use wind turbine installation vessels (WTIVs) than the alternative heavy lift vessels (HLVs) with cranes of the required lifting height, according to the analysis.
Also, many potentially suitable HLVs will be above 40 years old by 2030 and not preferable for installation tasks.
Quayside assembly sites may be limited due to their maximum installation and assembly capacities and secondly, potential supply chain bottlenecks could arise in the availability of reasonably priced anchor handling tugs (AHTs) moving forward.
Some challenges could have a positive outcome for the industry. For instance, developers and suppliers could partner up to manage costs and help standardize processes in the supply chain where possible, whether it be a shared operations and maintenance (O&M) base or quayside investment.