The buzz around the floating offshore wind sector at the moment is electric and there is a really positive vibe about where this sector is heading. However, beneath all that we have a couple of key concerns to ensure the industry realises its full potential.
Floating offshore wind is a new area and a new sector. Sure, there is some carry-across from fixed offshore wind, oil and gas installations, floating body mooring, marine renewables but fundamentally it must be regarded as NEW. A similar thing happened in the early days of offshore wind turbines, when people considered it as “just” taking a wind turbine and putting it offshore. It wasn’t until the challenges were understood after some expensive lessons learnt that the knowledge was developed through the design process, that the LCOE came tumbling down.
With the hype around floating wind and the obvious connotations with fixed bottom wind there is a feeling of pressure to make floating bankable within the next decade. This mentality has the potential to stifle innovation, as each individual investor (and insurer) in each demonstration project will want to minimise their risk and thus want things to be done “the way it was done last time”. This approach has the potential to prevent development of foundation concepts and inclusion of local content, both of which will be crucial to the long-term success of the industry.
To support the industry at this stage there needs to be a focus on allowing and supporting innovation particularly in the areas of foundation design, mooring & anchoring solutions, installation operations and ongoing O&M strategies – demonstration projects need to provide scope for this development.