Floating offshore wind energy is no longer just a flight of fancy or drawing-board dream, but is a viable technology and ready to be brought up to industrial scale, according to a new report from WindEurope, which also highlights a current European pipeline of around 350 megawatts.
WindEurope, the European trade body for wind energy, published its new report this week at the Offshore Wind Energy 2017 event being held in London. According to WindEurope, not only has floating offshore wind energy technology reached maturity, but its costs are expected to plummet over the coming years.
Floating offshore wind allows for several key elements not available to traditional offshore wind. Significantly larger turbines can be used, and turbines can be located further offshore in waters far too deep for traditional turbines, but where the wind blows stronger and steadier. In fact, the potential for floating offshore energy is significant, with 80% of all offshore wind energy resources located in waters 60-meters and deeper in European seas, where traditional bottom-fixed offshore wind is less attractive due to the prohibitive nature of installation and operation & maintenance. WindEurope predicts that floating offshore wind energy’s potential in Europe could reach 4,000 gigawatts (GW) — significantly more than the resources of the US and Japan combined. All of this means that not only can floating wind turbines bring down construction, installation, operation, and maintenance costs, but the increased capacity can improve to increased generation, which WindEurope predicts could see cost reductions of 10% by 2020 and 25% by 2030.
“Floating offshore wind is no longer an R&D exercise,” boasted Ivan Pineda, WindEurope Director for Public Affairs. “The technology has developed rapidly in recent years and it is now ready to be fully commercialised at utility scale projects. Adding this option to the market means more offshore wind in total and it’s this extra capacity that we will need to meet the 2030 goals.”
Additionally, there is already a growing pipeline of floating offshore wind energy projects, with a current cumulative capacity of 348 MW.
Floating offshore wind projects in Europe
|Project name||Capacity||Country||Expected commissioning date|
|Hywind Scotland||30 MW||Scotland||2017|
|Kincardine||48 MW||Scotland||From 2018|
|Dounreay Tri||2 x 5 MW||Scotland||2018|
|WindFloat Atlantic||30 MW||Portugal||2018-2019|
|French pre-commercial farms||4 x 25 MW||France||2020|
|Atlantis/Ideol project||100 MW||UK||2021|