Innovation competition highlights £32bn market opportunity for global floating offshore wind market

The Carbon Trust, together with 14 leading offshore wind developers represented by the Floating Wind JIP, will select the best ideas with a particular emphasis on mooring systems and operations and maintenance (O&M).

With a fund of £1 million from the Scottish Government, the competition will award innovations that will drive the floating wind market forward to help meet decarbonisation targets and open up a £32 billion market opportunity[1].

Analysis by the Carbon Trust has shown that while floating offshore wind is a nascent sector, it is forecast to deliver up to 12GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030. Realising this scale of deployment cost effectively will require innovative solutions to de-risk the technology and reduce costs.

Joint industry partnerships have delivered targeted and effective research and development projects that have contributed to the rapid cost reductions seen across the offshore wind industry over the last decade. However, a number of challenges for the floating offshore wind sector need to be overcome to allow large scale deployment of this technology.    

The objective of the Floating Wind Technology Acceleration Competition is to attract ideas both from within the offshore wind industry and across a wide variety of other sectors including: marine, automotive, oil and gas, aerospace, robotics and manufacturing. It is specifically seeking technologies to address four key challenge areas:

  1. Technologies that will enable effective and safe major component exchange offshore, for example by compensating for the relative motion between the vessel and turbine during O&M.
  2. Developing cost effective and safe disconnection and re-connection operations when turbine foundations are towed to port.This includes novel ‘out of service’ arrangements which ensure mooring lines and electrical array cables safely remain secured in-situ while the turbine is in port.
  3. New methods for cost effective, safe and reliable monitoring and inspection of large numbers of mooring lines, power cables and foundation structures.
  4. New methods, materials or technologies that reduce the cost of mooring systems through easier and safe installation and/or reduced maintenance requirements.

Innovators will also be able to make applications in a miscellaneous category to enable additional novel ideas to be considered.  

The challenge areas were identified through previous work undertaken by the Floating Wind JIP. The Summary Report from Phase 1 of the Floating Wind JIP summarises the technology challenges in the floating wind sector across electrical systems, mooring systems, infrastructure and logistics.

This report highlighted the need for dedicated solutions for offshore wind mooring systems, in particular the use of synthetic mooring line materials compared to conventional steel chain or wire moorings, and efficient means of installation and maintenance. The report also identified the need to develop efficient manufacturing processes and develop cost effective means of maintaining floating offshore wind structures.

Scotland’s Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said:

“I am delighted to announce the £1 million Floating Wind Technology Acceleration Competition that Scottish Government are partnering with the Carbon Trust to deliver. Given that 80% of offshore resource across the world is in deeper water, floating offshore wind will undoubtedly play a key role in renewable generation in the future. Finding solutions to the key challenges identified as part of the competition will facilitate faster deployment of commercial level floating offshore wind farms, allowing this technology to reach its potential.”

Jan Matthiesen, Director of Offshore Wind at the Carbon Trust commented:

“Offshore wind in Europe has delivered cost reduction at a scale that no one anticipated, cementing its role as a truly competitive energy generation technology. It is now cheaper than building new conventional power plants. Floating wind is a proven technology and promises to be the next renewable power success story, but to meet the scale of ambition we need to accelerate cost reduction. By 2030, the Carbon Trust estimates that a further 12GW of floating wind capacity could be built globally, requiring around £32.4bn of capital investment. This rapid growth provides opportunities to participate in this exciting new sector and we welcome ideas from across industry to support this important sector.”



Notes to editors

For further details please contact the Carbon Trust press office on or alternatively call +44 (0) 20 7170 7050.

Details of the Challenges (Target Areas)

Challenge 1: Exchange of large turbine components offshore when floating foundation structures are moving due to wave motion. When performing lift operations offshore from a floating moving vessel to a floating moving foundation structure, the relative motions between the lift vessel and structure makes such operations very challenging. The competition will be looking for technology that allows effective and safe major component exchange offshore.  

Challenge 2: Disconnecting and re-connecting offshore foundation structures when they are removed from the wind farm and towed to port for major maintenance. Before towing a structure to port, mooring lines and electrical power cables need to be disconnected. This operation can take several hours and be limited by available weather windows. When leaving the disconnected power cables and mooring lines behind, they need to be secured so that a re-connection of the structure is easily achievable once it returns to the wind farm. This may be several months after it has been removed. The competition will welcome applications on technologies that will allow cost effective and safe disconnection and re-connection operations when turbines foundations are towed to port.  

Challenge 3: Cost efficient monitoring and inspection for large numbers of mooring lines, cables and foundation structures.  Monitoring and inspection is time consuming and costly. Current technology and approaches like the use of divers or Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) are not feasible considering the large number of assets that require monitoring. We are looking for technologies that allows cost effective, safe monitoring and inspection for offshore wind farms.  

Challenge 4: Mooring systems and their installations are important cost contributors, particularly given the large volume of mooring lines and anchors that must be installed and maintained in floating wind farms, often in challenging offshore conditions. There is considerable experience in this field from the oil and gas sector, however the large number of mooring systems create some key challenges for the floating wind sector, such as the need to reduce cost. The competition is seeking methods, materials or technologies that allow easier and safe installation, reduce maintenance requirements and therefore reduce overall cost of mooring systems.  

Miscellaneous category: The competition is also looking for other technologies that will reduce the cost of floating offshore wind, such as reducing installation times, allowing serial fabrication or reducing maintenance requirements. Entries submitted in this category should provide details of the challenge their technology is overcoming. 

It should be noted that this competition will not fund projects to develop new floating wind platform or turbine designs. This competition will also not fund projects to improve the design of dynamic export cables, or projects primarily aimed at supporting fixed-bottom offshore wind turbines. 

About the Carbon Trust

Established in 2001, the Carbon Trust works with businesses, governments and institutions around the world, helping them contribute to, and benefit from, a more sustainable future through carbon reduction, resource efficiency strategies, and commercialising low carbon businesses, systems and technologies. 

The Carbon Trust: 

  • works with corporates and governments, helping them to align their strategies with climate science and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement; 
  • provides expert advice and assurance, giving investors and financial institutions the confidence that green finance will have genuinely green outcomes; and 
  • supports the development of low carbon technologies and solutions, building the foundations for the energy system of the future. 

Headquartered in London, the Carbon Trust has a global team of 200 staff, representing over 30 nationalities based across five continents. 

About the Floating Wind JIP

The Floating Wind JIP, formed in 2016, is a collaborative research and development initiative between the Carbon Trust, Scottish Government, and fourteen leading international offshore wind developers: EnBW, ENGIE, Eolfi, E.ON, Equinor, ScottishPower Renewables, innogy, Kyuden Mirai Energy, Ørsted, Shell, SSE, TEPCO, Vattenfall, and Wpd. It has been established to accelerate the development of floating wind technology through cost reduction and de-risking of technology components and their manufacture, operation and maintenance.

Quotes from the developers are available upon request.

[1] Source: Carbon Trust JIP Summary report, 2018 – Carbon Trust expect up to ~12GW to be feasible by 2030