Floating offshore wind market technology review

How Scotland can take the lead in commercialising floating wind technology and the progress made so far.

Wind Turbine in the clouds

Publication date: June 2015

This report is the most comprehensive review of floating wind technologies to date, based on information provided by concept developers and commissioned by the Scottish Government. It outlines the potential scale of cost reduction achievable for floating wind technology and the opportunity for Scotland to take the lead in commercialising this technology.

As installed capacity for offshore wind increases and the relatively accessible shallow near-shore sites are exhausted, wind farms using fixed-bottom foundations will need to be developed further from shore and in deeper water, which will pose greater technical challenges and constrain efforts to reduce costs. In response to this challenge, momentum is building around the potential for floating offshore wind technology to unlock near-shore deep water sites at a lower cost than far-shore fixed-bottom locations. Floating wind is particularly well suited to Scotland. A combination of high wind speeds, abundant near-shore deep water sites, and the ability to leverage existing infrastructure and supply chain capabilities from the offshore oil and gas industry create the requisite conditions to position Scotland as a world leader in floating wind technology.

The Carbon Trust has conducted quantitative analysis of 18 concepts currently on the market, based on information provided by the innovators, to understand the key technology trends, cost drivers and barriers to commercialisation. The Carbon Trust's analysis reveals that floating wind concepts have the potential to reach below £100/MWh in commercial deployments, according to platform developers, with the leading concepts estimating even lower costs of £85-£95MWh, which would be competitive with fixed-bottom projects if floating wind reaches commercial scale deployment in the 2020s.

The report goes on to outline a series of recommendations to address the barriers and support the development of floating wind, defined at four levels:

  • Concept-specific RD&D initiatives to support device development and provide funding for part and full-scale demonstrations.
  • Test facility development to establish the tank and offshore testing facilities needed to demonstrate promising concepts and test innovative component technologies.
  • Component-level RD&D initiatives to tackle common challenges.
  • Evidence-based studies to build a business case for investment in floating wind technology and identify the most effective policy interventions to attract private sector investment.


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