The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult in the UK has launched a national Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence to drive forward the development of next-generation offshore wind technology
The initiative is backed by up to £500,000 (US$647,000) funding each from the Scottish Government and the Catapult’s Welsh-based Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence (MEECE), match funding from industry and active support from Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.
The aim is to develop an internationally recognised centre of excellence that will work to reduce the cost of energy from floating wind, accelerate the build out of floating windfarms, create opportunities for the UK supply chain, and drive innovations in manufacturing, installation and operations and maintenance.
The ORE Catapult said advancing floating wind technologies is vital if the UK is to deliver on its ambitious offshore wind growth target of 30 GW by 2030 and meet the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation of 75 GW by 2050.
ORE Catapult’s Macroeconomic Benefits Report, released in September 2018, and the joint Renewable UK and Scottish Renewables, Floating Wind – The UK Industry Ambition report both identify Scotland, Wales and southwest England as key areas that could benefit from floating offshore wind, creating 17,000 jobs and generating £33.6Bn (US$43.5Bn) for the UK economy by 2050.
The Centre of Excellence will cover all the areas of floating wind activity in the UK aligning activity nationally and developing projects focused on regional priorities.
Scottish Government Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said, “We recognise the vital role that floating offshore wind will play in our future energy system as we continue our transition to a net zero economy and we strongly support this innovative technology.
“Scotland’s unique deepwater profile and significant expertise in oil and gas mean we are exceptionally well placed to take advantage of the huge economic opportunity presented by early adoption of commercial-scale floating projects.
“The Scottish Government is delighted to support ORE Catapult’s Floating Wind Centre of Excellence to further develop this technology and drive down costs in the sector. The collaborative programme of work delivered through the Centre will ensure that Scotland remains a world leader in floating offshore wind innovation and move us closer to seeing widespread deployment in more than 462,000 km2 of seas within Scotland’s Exclusive Economic Zone.”
ORE Catapult operational performance director Chris Hill said, “According to International Energy Agency estimates, the next generation of floating turbines could generate enough energy to meet the world’s total electricity demand 11 times over in 2040.
“Our team of innovation experts and engineers will work across industry and academia to accelerate floating offshore wind technology deployment and derisk and encourage innovation to ensure we deliver UK economic benefit from the global growth of floating offshore wind – growing local supply chains and delivering UK content and jobs.
“We’ve already had strong interest from more than 10 offshore wind developers, including Total, Equinor, Mainstream Renewable Power and EDP Renewables, along with three UK universities, in joining the initiative, and are closely aligning the Centre’s activities with key stakeholders including the Welsh Government, the Celtic Sea Cluster, Opportunity North East (ONE), the Oil and Gas Technology Centre, Deepwind Offshore Wind Cluster, Scottish Enterprise, Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Crown Estate Scotland.”
Opportunity North East chairman Sir Ian Wood said, “With more offshore installations than any other country, the world’s largest floating windfarm and plans for a seven-fold increase in capacity, this is a very exciting time for our offshore wind sector. The Floating Wind Centre of Excellence will play a vital role in helping the UK leverage its leadership position, connecting our strong regional clusters to drive innovation and collaboration.
“As a country, our vision should be to use our industrial and academic expertise to create an integrated net zero offshore energy sector built on partnership across the different parts of the energy mix.”
Eight initial projects will kick-start the centre’s activities. These include: powering offshore oil platforms using floating offshore wind turbines; hybrid bottom fixed/floating offshore wind sites; grid connection for Scottish offshore wind/off grid opportunities including H2; floating substructures for fabrication in Scotland; mapping Scotland’s floating offshore wind supply chain; Scottish aquaculture and floating wind synergies; mapping Cornwall and Wales floating offshore wind supply chain; and site characterisation of Atlantic approaches and Celtic Sea.