The WindEurope Offshore 2019 conference heard that floating wind technology can unlock “previously unimaginable” horizons for wind power at sea, that its potential is "vast," but there are political hurdles to unleashing its full potential
There was widespread agreement at the conference on the need to convince governments of the impact of regulations they have to put in place to develop projects at commercial scale. There need to be technology-specific tenders for floating wind, speakers said, and all of this needs to be part of the EU’s New Green Deal.
Equinor head of offshore wind technology Leif Delp said research and innovation will be essential but so will clear visibility on project pipelines, and millions will need to be invested.
“As of now,” Naval Energies chief executive Laurent Schneider-Maunoury said, “France is the only country with floating in their national energy and climate plan. “This is an example that needs to be followed and having clear policy-based plans for floating is the only way to fully secure investments in the deployment of floating technologies.”
Wood Mackenzie director offshore wind Rolf Kragelund agreed that the clear pipeline of projects up to 2023, which will see up to 88 MW built, is not enough to create a path to market. “Like in France, governments need to make specific tenders for floating,” he said.
MHI Vestas head of technical sales readiness and floating Albert Winnemuller said the industry should not forget the support ports will need to help realise floating wind and move beyond demonstration projects. “We need support mechanisms. Without these, floating will take more time to happen. More countries should follow the example of France, combine price and expectation in volumes and make this both clear and visible,” he said.
Principle Power chief commercial officer Patrick Lefebvre said that, by 2050, offshore wind should be dominated by floating. However, a lot can happen between now and then, and right now, getting experience is critical. Put simply, said Mr Lefebvre, floating wind on paper is not the same as in real conditions. Scalability is key, and at the right level. “We need a chance to learn more and we can only learn by doing,” he said. “We are just at the beginning of the learning curve.”
Mr Delp said Equinor is looking into floating foundations, as commercialisation is the big battle. There are currently about 60 technology concepts globally, all at different technology readiness levels.
Mr Schneider-Maunoury said there are probably too many solutions available right now – perhaps a fraction of these will remain. Mr Kragelund said it is too early to say which technology will be the ‘winner’ but the industry needs commercialisation.