Floating offshore wind energy is looking like an increasingly likely possibility in the near future, thanks to the Scottish government’s recent unveiling of a £15 million fund for the development of new deep-water foundation technologies.
Floating foundation technologies are currently in the early stages of their development, but once proved on the industrial scale, they will allow for the installation of floating wind turbines in far deeper waters than is currently possible. The wind resources in these deeper waters are much larger than the resources available closer to the shore. These winds are also steadier.
Scotland’s energy minister Fergus Ewing recently confirmed that the funds will be available to projects developed in waters of more than 30 meters depth, through the Scottish Innovative Foundation Technologies Fund.
One of the most significant costs of current offshore wind farms are the foundations, the concrete monopile and steel jackets. These can make up more than 16% of total project costs. “But analysis has shown that new technology could lead to big savings – helping to reach industry targets of £100/MWh by 2020,” as Business Green notes.
“This funding will help maintain Scotland’s position as one of the world’s most attractive destinations for renewable energy investment, development and deployment,” said Ewing.
“It will help lower costs in developing the foundations needed for wind turbines in deeper water and more varied seabed conditions – currently the second largest cost associated with this type of project. It should also benefit Scottish companies through the supply chain, securing jobs and boosting our economic recovery.”
It’s currently estimated that Scotland possesses roughly 1/4 of Europe’s total offshore wind and tidal resource. In order to fully take advantage of such a significant resource, the necessity is there to create new systems and technologies that will allow development in the deepest, most wind-rich waters. This new fund should help in that regard.