A new offshore floating wind turbine platform takes the wind out of the sails of the anti-ESG movement (image via Cision).

Stackable Offshore Floating Wind Turbine Platform Cuts Costs

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Sneaky! While Republican office holders have been busy clamoring against something they call “woke capitalism,” the American Bureau of Shipping went right ahead and gave approval in principle to a new offshore floating wind turbine platform that sports a unique stackable design. The stacking feature is part of a soup-to-nuts campaign to cut the maritime-related costs of floating wind, from the Swedish firm Bassoe Technology.

What Is Woke Capitalism?

For those of you new to the topic, “woke capitalism” is a disparaging term aimed at banks and other financial firms that take ESG (environment, social, governance) factors into account when allocating their investment dollars. Supposedly, the idea is that ESG factors distract from the real business of making money for investors, especially when preference is given to energy resources that compete with fossil fuels.

Don’t just take our word for it. Last August, 19 Republican state attorneys general sent a public letter of complaint to the top global firm Blackrock, accusing it of usingthe hard-earned money of our states’ citizens to circumvent the best possible return on investment.”

“BlackRock’s past public commitments indicate that it has used citizens’ assets to pressure companies to comply with international agreements such as the Paris Agreement that force the phase-out of fossil fuels, increase energy prices, drive inflation, and weaken the national security of the United States,” they added.

ABS Likes ESG

Among those signing on to the letter was Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. You can read the letter in full on his website to grasp the irony of a Republican office holder in Texas complaining about “BlackRock’s quixotic climate agenda,” when businesses in his own home state have been instrumental in pushing renewable energy into the mainstream.

CleanTechnica has spilled plenty of ink on the front-running success of Texas’s onshore wind industry. The state’s solar and energy storage sectors are also coming on strong, along with emerging areas like green hydrogen and electrofuels. Now it appears that Texas will play an instrumental role in the global floating wind industry, as host of the world headquarters of the American Bureau of Shipping.

With its global HQ in the city of Spring and a track record that dates back to its founding in 1862, ABS describes itself as “a global leader in providing classification services for marine and offshore assets.”

“Our mission is to serve the public interest as well as the needs of our members and clients by promoting the security of life and property and preserving the natural environment,” they add.

As for Ken Paxton and the rest of the anti-ESG set, ABS has something to say about that. “We are leading the maritime industry in comprehensive decarbonization and sustainability solutions,” the firm explains, adding that “our approach offers shipowners a balanced view of their vessel with a customized plan to achieve their decarbonization and sustainability goals.”

ABS Likes Floating Wind Turbine Platforms

The floating wind industry is based on relatively new technology, and ABS has been contributing its expertise in support of rapid growth. Back in 2020, ABS published a floating wind turbine guide that lays out criteria for “the floating substructure, the stationkeeping system, and onboard machinery, equipment and systems including applicable marine systems and associated equipment and machinery, safety systems and associated equipment, and lifesaving appliances and machinery.”

The latest in a series of floating wind turbine projects to pass across the ABS desk is the Bassoe D-Floater, which ABS describes as a “new breed of floating offshore wind turbine foundations, designed to handle the largest wind turbines in the world.”

“ABS is proud to add the Bassoe D-Floater to its list of pioneering offshore floating innovations that we have been able to support,” said ABS Head of Global Floating Offshore Wind, Lars Samuelsson.

“This list includes classification of the first and largest floating wind projects. Now we are able to support floating turbines capable of matching the capabilities of fixed bottom equivalents in scale and consequent generating capacity. ABS is leading the development of floating offshore wind capabilities globally,” Samuelsson added.

The Stackable Floating Wind Turbine Platforms Are Coming

Bassoe’s D-Floater incorporates a number of elements aimed at cutting the cost of floating offshore wind farms. Stackability  is the primary feature. The D-floater is designed to stack in groups of up to five on a single vessel, to enable more cost-effective transportation. That savings can provide the offshore developer with more flexibility in choosing a competitive shipyard to build the floating platforms. The platforms can be built in one shipyard and sent to another to be rigged for a turbine, before being towed out to sea.

The stackable feature is also a space saver at shipyards, allowing for more onshore storage. That can free up the shipping vessel for faster turnaround.

Bassoe also notes that its floating wind hull is designed to stow on a dry tow vessel, referring to a vessel that can operate in relatively shallow water. That can open up more possibilities for choice of shipyard. Bassoe applies a similar approach to cutting the cost of towing the rigged-up platform out to sea.

“By carefully designing the hull to accommodate as many assembly locations of tower and [nacelle assembly] as possible, we have succeeded in making a design with a tow-out draft of only 8 m with a 20 MW turbine installed,” Bassoe explains. “The shallow draft enables the tower and turbine installation in a port close to the floating wind farm which reduces the wet tow distance and as a result the time to deploy the units.”

As of this writing, the D-Floater has passed the approval-in-principle phase of ABS’s approval process. Once all the ducks are in the water, Bassoe (which is a branch of China’s CIMC Group, by the way) expects to deliver more than 50 D-Floaters per year. The company has also received ABS approval-in-principle for its T-Floater design.

Who’s Afraid Of The ESG?

If there is any lingering doubt about the influence of Texas-headquartered ABS on the global offshore wind industry, ABS is happy to put it to rest.

In a press release announcing its approval of the D-Floater in principle, ABS also noted that it has been “instrumental in the formulation of global standards for wind platforms and for the design and fabrication of floating wind installations.”

“ABS understands the needs of owners and operators to enhance operational efficiencies with sustainable energy solutions,” the company added.

As for the anti-ESG flag bearers, Paxton is just one example. Other attorneys general who signed on to the BlackRock letter also represent states that are providing an assist to the renewable energy revolution. Among them is West Virginia, where the energy storage startup Form Energy is setting up shop along the Ohio River with the help of millions in public funding.

Another example is Kentucky, where the offshore wind industry is the intended customer of a new “green steel” plant launched by the leading steelmaker Nucor, also with an assist from the public.

The list goes on. Meanwhile, last November, a group of 17 Democratic attorneys general clapped back in a public letter of their own, organized by Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine.

“By kowtowing to the demands of a small group of corporate donors, Republican politicians are engaging in a dangerous misinformation campaign,” Racine said in a press release.

“Here’s the truth: considering environmental, social, and governance factors is the best practice of investment professionals throughout the world and the overwhelming majority of trustees in Republican-led states agree,” he added (emphasis added).

That’s not the last of it. Take another look at the Republican AG letter to BlackRock. If you can cross-reference other signers with cutting-edge renewable energy projects in their home states, drop us a note in the comment thread.

Follow me on Trainwreck Twitter @TinaMCasey.

Find me on LinkedIn: @TinaMCasey or Mastodon: @Casey or Post:  @tinamcasey

Photo: New stackable platform for offshore floating wind turbines courtesy of Bassoe and ABS via Cision.


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Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

Tina Casey has 3240 posts and counting. See all posts by Tina Casey