Floating offshore windfarms will deliver ‘multiple gigawatts’ of electricity by 2024 and could provide as much as 18.9 GW of capacity by 2030, a new report claims
In its report, Floating wind on the verge of lift off – 10 year forecast; bright future, Rethink Technology says that, after more than a decade of hard work, wind turbines on floating platforms are about to come into their own.
The company forecasts between 11.8 GW and 18.9 GW of floating wind by 2024, and believes the higher figure is more likely.
“The area of doubt is the speed of adoption at commercial-scale in parts of the world known to be planning demonstration projects,” says the consultant. “By 2035 we are sure the market for floating wind will reach 28 GW of capacity and by 2030 the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) for floating wind will have fallen to around US$44 per MWh.”
The report identifies potential early adopters of floating wind as the UK, France, Portugal, Japan, the US, South Korea and Taiwan, but Rethink anticipates floating wind adoption could be held back by governments being slow to adopt capacity targets.
Looking at the many different types of floating platforms that have been proposed, Rethink says it believes only three or four will be sufficiently well-established to make commercial-scale projects possible, although it anticipates developers will ‘fire the starting gun’ for an initial series of commercial-scale floating wind projects as soon as 2020/2021.
“There will be a four or five-year delay before the early pioneers of floating wind are caught up by other designs or adoption becomes more widespread in other regions,” Rethink says. It says this lag between early projects and subsequent ones will give the companies behind the technology ample time to capture a significant market share.
“The LCOE for this technology should be competitive with offshore wind with fixed foundations in the 2026/2067 timeframe,” Rethink says, at which point it believes the industry as whole will begin to rethink whether bottom-fixed offshore wind will ultimately remain competitive.
Recent months have seen important developments in various commercial-scale projects and some demonstration projects.
Equinor, Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) and Korean power company Korea East-West Power have formed a consortium to develop the Donghae 1 floating offshore wind project and are planning to develop a 200-MW floating windfarm close to the KNOC-operated Donghae natural gas field off the coast of Ulsan in South Korea. They plan to carry out a feasibility study for the windfarm, including using the Donghae 1 platform as a substation for the windfarm. Pending results of the feasibility study, the consortium will start constructing a floating offshore windfarm in 2022, with production start-up and first power in 2024.
Another energy major, Shell, also recently signed a joint development agreement to build a windfarm offshore South Korea. It has entered into an agreement to build a floating windfarm offshore South Korea with the developer of a twin-turbine floating wind concept. CoensHexicon Co Ltd in South Korea will partner with Shell to develop, construct and operate a floating windfarm approximately 40 km offshore from the city of Ulsan.
As part of a project for another floater offshore South Korea, a floating LiDAR system was installed earlier this year to collect wind resource data. Installing the LiDAR is one of the first steps in developing Green Investment Group’s project 60 km east of Seosang-myon, Ulju-gun, Ulsan City. The Ulsan project is a 1.4-GW offshore windfarm which is being progressed in three separate phases. Development of the first 400-MW phase is due to be completed in 2022.
Ideol in France and a leading generator of renewable energy in Japan have outlined an agreement to build a commercial-scale floating windfarm. The floating foundation specialist is joining forces with Shizen Energy for a commercial-scale floating project off Kyushu and is already considering expanding their partnership to other areas. Ideol did not initially indicate how large the floating windfarm might be, whether a final investment decision had been taken or when construction might start. A company spokesperson says details remained confidential.
The first of three turbines for the 25-MW WindFloat Atlantic began installation on 17 July 2019. The 8.3-MW MHI Vestas V164 turbine is being installed on a floating foundation in the outer harbour at Ferrol in Spain. It is the largest turbine to be installed on a floating platform to date.
Fabrication and load-out of the first WindFloat platform for the three-turbine project was completed earlier in July at Navantia in Fene, Spain and the unit is now moored at Ferrol, where the turbine is being installed.
The consortium behind the WindFloat Atlantic project said assembly will take place over the coming weeks in preparation for offshore operations commencing, which it said was “scheduled for the end of summer,” when the floating structure will depart for its final destination off the coast of Viana do Castelo, Portugal. It will be moored in water depths of around 100 m.
Naval Energies in France has announced an agreement with Hitachi Zosen Corporation in Japan to collaborate on floating wind energy. The agreement was announced during the recent trip to Japan by the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron and the Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Lemaire.
The companies plan to undertake a feasibility study to jointly design and build floating windfarms with a capacity of several hundred megawatts using Naval Energies’ semi-submersible floating foundation. The study will examine the application of the semi-submersible floater off the Japanese coast.
Hitachi Zosen general manager wind power Takashi Fujita says, “Among the many floaters that have been proposed, we consider Naval Energies’ semi-submersible floater, which has many advantages, is one of the best on the market. We hope that Naval Energies and Hitachi Zosen will be able to contribute to developing an industrial-scale floating wind energy industry in Japan.”
Naval Energies president Laurent Schneider Maunoury says, “We look forward to collaborating with Hitachi Zosen, with the objective of becoming an industrial partner for designing and manufacturing floaters.
“Environmental conditions in Japan are favourable for installing this kind of technology and we have all the necessary know-how for developing this new industrial sector locally. We hope this step is the first of a long-lasting and fruitful collaboration between our two companies.”
Floaters in focus in Norway
In July 2019, Norway’s Ministry of Petroleum and Energy began a consultation on three areas that could be opened up for offshore windfarm development. The areas in question are suitable for bottom-fixed and floating offshore wind.
The first two areas are Utsira Nord and Sandskallen – Sørøya Nord. The ministry is also asking for input on whether the Sørlige Nordsjø II area should also be opened to offshore wind development.
Utsira Nord is to the west of Haugesund and is suitable for floating wind power, which is the most interesting technology from a Norwegian perspective. Sørlige Nordsjø II has water depths which make it possible to develop bottom-fixed wind but floating solutions could also be relevant.
Norway believes it has ‘first mover advantage’ in floating wind having around 30% Norwegian content in the Hywind Scotland floating windfarm in the UK, including engineering the substructure, tower and associated systems, and involvement in installing the substructure, towage, anchoring operations and static and dynamic cables and accessories.