Floating Offshore Wind

Onshore wind turbines can be found across the planet from the tropics to the Arctic. 30 years ago developers started the rise of the offshore wind market. More recently, the market has taken a more ambitious direction — putting turbines on floating platforms in the water. Floating wind holds the potential to become one of the most important new renewable energy markets on the planet.

Why Does It Beat Fixed Offshore Wind?

Floating offshore wind has many advantages over fixed offshore wind, meaning this has the potential to become one of the main renewable energy markets in the world.

One of the main benefits of floating wind is that it does not require large and expensive installation vessels. Whereas fixed turbines need heavy lift vessels to install the foundations, transport, and assemble the parts on-site. Floating wind platforms are assembled onshore and then towed to the site with the help of tugs and anchor handling vessels.

This onshore building also means reducing weather-dependent operations. Being able to use smaller vessels with less weather-dependent operational methods means the project can avoid serious delays waiting for optimal weather windows and has fewer safety risks.

Equinor was able to reduce costs by 40% between Hywind Scotland and their Hywind Tampen project in the Norwegian North Sea. They believe they can reduce costs further by 30% or more for their next project.

Floating wind is also able to be installed much further out to sea. This results in much less NIMBY (“Not In My Back Yard”) resistance from local communities, as visual pollution is minimised and does not affect coastal communities.

In addition to this, they have a lesser impact on the coastal and ocean environment. They are easier to remove than fixed offshore wind if need be. And being much further out to sea, they have less impact on the fragile coastal ecosystem and the landscape. With a smaller footprint as well, they have a reduced impact on the sea-bed.

Source: Functional Structure of Turbine-to-Grid, Jalonsom, 2016
 

 

 

 

 

Greater wind speeds, stronger and more consistent winds (typically found further out to sea) can mean that capacity factors of over 60% can be achieved, the Hywind floating wind farm in Scotland achieved over 65% capacity factor in its first three operating months. This means, floating wind projects can achieve better Levelised Cost of Energy (LCoE) than fixed offshore wind farms.

To summarise, floating wind has many of the same advantages as land-based wind energy – provides renewable energy; they do not consume water; offers a local energy source; creates jobs, and they do not emit environmental pollutants. And it holds many benefits making it superior to regular fixed offshore wind. Floating wind can unlock energy potential that was previously unusable. It eliminates the limitation of water depth that faces regular fixed offshore wind. This unlocks a whole new world for renewable energy.

Costs & Economic Viability

Currently floating offshore wind remains more expensive than bottom fixed offshore wind given its early stage. However, with the right circumstances and technological developments floating wind could decrease in cost faster than bottom fixed offshore wind. Fixed offshore wind has made significant progress in cost reduction from 150 €/MWh in 2014 to 65 €/MWh in 2017.

Today floating offshore wind costs around 180 to 200€/MWh for pre-commercial projects. Looking forward the industry hopes for costs to reduce €100-80/MWh for the first commercial-scale projects using existing proven technologies in the not-too-distant future. And costs are expected to continue to decrease hitting as low as €40-60 /MWh by 2030 given the correct volumes, growth, and industrialisation.

Production & Installation

The key technology of floating wind involves using the iceberg principle – which means most of the mass is underwater.

At Hywind Scotland, the world’s only current fully commercial floating wind farm, each of the Siemens SWT-6.0-154 turbines has a total mass of about 350 tonnes and sits on a foundation composed of around 6,000 tonnes of ballast.

As of now, floating wind developers have focused on designs that are cheap to build and easy to maintain and operate. But there is still a lot of space for creativity. Most developers have different beliefs on what design is best and they all hold a strong argument for its benefits. Today, however, there are four main designs being applied:

Market Watch

Adjacent Industries
Related markets related to floating offshore wind:
Oil & Gas
Electricity Grids
Wind Energy
Energy Storage
Metal Manufacturing
Market Players
Some of the main floating offshore wind players include:
Equinor
BW Ideol
Pilot Offshore Renewables
Windplus Consortium
EDP Renewables

 

 

Explore the questions we can answer for you:

Regulations and Policy eg. DNVGL-RU-OU-0512
Development of Mooring Systems
Reducing Project Costs
Tie-In to Main Grid

Economic Modelling for Floating Wind Projects
Investment Opportunties in Floating Wind
Dynamic Power Cable Uses
Strategic Analysis of Prospect Projects

Investment Considerations

The floating offshore wind industry holds massive potential and as this market heads towards commercial maturity, many investors see the market as a strong investment. However, there are some investment considerations in this market that should be taken into account before investing heavily in this industry.

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