Scottish minister for energy Fergus Ewing announced the publication of a new Carbon Trust report that sets out the current state of the floating wind industry and identifies key technical barriers that need to be addressed to make it a commercial reality.
Ewing made the announcement about the Floating Offshore Wind: Market and Technology Review at the Global Offshore Wind 2015 conference in London this morning.
In a statement, the Carbon Trust said that as installed capacity for offshore wind increases and the relatively accessible shallow near-shore sites are exhausted, wind farms using fixed-bottom foundations will need to be developed further from shore and in deeper water, which will pose greater technical challenges and constrain efforts to reduce costs. In response to this challenge, momentum is building around the potential for floating offshore wind technology to unlock near-shore deep water sites at a lower cost than far-shore fixed-bottom locations.
According to Carbon Trust director of offshore wind Jan Matthiesen, the Scottish government commissioned report is the most comprehensive review of floating wind technologies to date. “The report highlights the need for government and industry need to work together to support technology demonstrations and targeted R&D initiatives to de-risk this technology and realise the cost reduction potential,” explained Matthiesen. “At the same time, industry should now team up to overcome common challenges and bring floating offshore wind from concept to commercial reality.”
Ewing added: “The Scottish Government is committed to a successful and sustainable offshore renewables sector which fully realises Scotland’s outstanding offshore renewable energy resources.
“We have been working with the Carbon Trust to produce a review to encourage the development of floating offshore wind. This report will help as we look to reduce costs floating wind technology and increase the opportunity for Scotland to take the lead in commercialising this technology.
“All those involved in this report are keen to work with developers and the supply chain to drive down industry costs and make floating wind the next big opportunity.”
The benefits and the barriers
The Carbon Trust conducted quantitative analysis of 18 concepts currently on the market, based on information provided by the innovators, to understand the key technology trends, cost drivers and barriers to commercialisation. The analysis revealed that floating wind concepts have the potential to reach below £100/MWh in commercial deployments, according to platform developers, with the leading concepts estimating even lower costs of £85-£95MWh, which would be competitive with fixed-bottom projects if floating wind reaches commercial scale deployment in the 2020s.
The report also outlines a series of recommendations to address the barriers and support the development of floating wind, defined at four levels:
- Concept-specific R&D initiatives to support device development and provide funding for part and full-scale demonstrations
- Test facility development to establish the tank and offshore testing facilities needed to demonstrate promising concepts and test innovative component technologies
- Component-level R&D initiatives to tackle common challenges
- Evidence-based studies to build a business case for investment in floating wind technology and identify the most effective policy interventions to attract private sector investment