Riviera – Opinion – Accelerating technology development in floating wind

Ultimately, we need to grow the pool of reliable technologies and capable suppliers in the market, to provide more choice for developers before projects go into the water. By standardising and commercialising these technologies at an early stage, they will be readily available – at a greater total capacity – at the right point in time in the development and procurement process.

Growing the supply chain pool is not the only ambition however, and this needs to be balanced with the pursuit of innovation. As such, the Centre is designed to also trial new and emerging technologies and facilitate the smooth transition of technologies from other industries, such as oil and gas, directly supporting businesses as our national energy mix changes.

This pursuit of innovation and cross-sector application of technologies will reduce risk and help make floating wind an even more attractive proposition for both governments and windfarm developers alike.

All of this complements the activities of ORE Catapult’s Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence, a collaborative programme with industry and academia, which has been addressing the specific opportunities and challenges the UK faces in developing floating wind since 2019.

As part of this collaboration, partners have committed more than £6.0M (US$7.5M) funding and supported the development and delivery of more than 50 projects. In doing so, the Centre has delivered a wide range of novel insight, evidence and guidance to partners and key stakeholders on the risks and opportunities in the commercialisation of floating wind.

An example of this has been work done to identify key components that need optimisation for industrial-scale deployment, and the creation of a bespoke, floating wind technology qualification programme to support their development. This service has already supported its first wave of businesses, and in co-operation with class societies, is laying the groundwork for potential standardisation in the future.

It is hoped these initiatives will help drive innovation, attract much-needed investment and ensure the UK remains at the vanguard of floating wind, carving out a major role for British businesses in the future supply chain.

RenewableUK predicts floating wind will represent over half of the UK’s offshore wind generation by 2050 and believes the government’s target of reaching 5 GW of floating wind in UK waters by 2030 is achievable. This means the first large-scale projects are not far away, and time is of the essence if key technologies are to be commercialised and implemented.

Carefully targeted standardisation is a powerful tool in the commercialisation journey, and if balanced with the need to give space to new and emerging technologies, the sector can achieve the cost reduction required, alongside sustainable supply chain growth.  

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