4C Offshore has released
a special feature report titled Floating Wind: Changing Gear. This comprehensive
report provides a detailed analysis of the global floating wind market,
an outlook of growth to 2030 and an in-depth review of the various floating
designs and their current development plans. Since 4C’s last deep dive
into floating wind in 2017, the 2030 outlook has increased markedly from
3GW+ to between ~7-13GW. In the near term, 2021 will be a milestone year
for floating wind, seeing a cumulative installed capacity of more than
When 66% of the earth’s surface is occupied by waters over 200m deep,
and 2.4 billion people (40% of the population) live within 100km of the
shoreline, it is easy to understand why floating offshore wind is credited
as having the potential to deliver the ‘civilisation-scale power’ needed
in a post fossil-fuel world.
Coastal administrations globally are responding to the attractively low
prices of offshore wind by scaling up their own ambitions for deployment.
Offshore wind is recognised as a viable, low cost opportunity to both accelerate
the decarbonisation agenda and capture economic value by bringing supply
chains to the region.
In effect, this has brought the future forward. Countries with waters beyond
the reach of fixed foundations can begin to explore the potential of floating
on the expectation of cost reductions to follow. In several jurisdictions,
the shallower, cheapest development sites have already been allocated or
are in short supply (e.g. Scotland, France). Furthermore, cumulative environmental
impacts, notably avian, also prevent high concentrations of wind parks
at nearshore locations, driving development into deeper waters.
have a heavy steel bicycle but we need a carbon road bike" - X1
Informed observers and participants are expecting floating costs to converge
with fixed in the next 10 years or so. Economies of scale, notably in manufacturing,
are cited as the key to unlocking cost savings for floaters, alongside
strong wind speeds. A doubling of project size, from e.g. 250MW to 500MW,
will bring the costs down 15-20% according to Engie.
But is scale enough? For now, it probably is. Current floating designs
are significantly heavier, and can be more complex than fixed foundations,
especially monopiles. Two approaches to bringing structural costs down
through scale include far-east fabrication and modular construction from
simple steel tubulars allowing for rapidly increased production rates.
However, from an engineering perspective the current design paradigm which
is wedded on ‘upwind, 3-bladed onshore turbine variants’ mounted on ‘oil
and gas’ foundations may be the biggest barrier to long-term success.
A single optimised structure of integrated design will be lighter, subject
to less loads, and logic follows, significantly cheaper. Alternative designs
include downwind weather-vanning turbines and pyramids instead of towers.
Unfortunately, offshore wind insurance companies, banks and investors are
not fans of innovation. However, if the investments in disruptive floating
turbine technology can be found to bring them competitively to market,
then perhaps floating can begin to compete more widely with fixed foundations,
and not just under specific environmental, technical or economic conditions.
The incumbents disagree; they are more sceptical of innovative designs
and see the CAPEX savings as less critical for LCOE reductions, and the
costs of switching as too high.
A gear change is underway. The most advanced concept, Hywind has performed
impressively in Scotland and Equinor are now ready to build commercial
scale parks. The WindFloat concept is not far behind. However, the demand
side is slower to respond; France is the only government committed to commercial
scale floating parks. Despite the loneliness, and concerns that it was
unwise to be the industry’s sole backer, in June France went a step further
and escalated its commitments thanks to savings at the low cost (€44/MWh)
Dunkerque fixed-bottom tender. More is needed to maintain momentum.
Floating Wind: 2030 Outlook
This section gives an overview of the current installed floating capacity,
the capacity under construction or post-FID, and provides a forecast to
2.1 Current Market Outlook (2019-2022)
By end-2019 (Figure 1; Figure 4) the UK will lead the floating market with
32MW installed, followed by Portugal (25MW), Japan (19MW), Norway (2.3MW)
and France (2MW). A three-fold increase is anticipated for floating wind
by 2021 (from ~80MW to 276MW) when projects in France, Japan, Spain, US
and UK enter operations. More specifically, 2021 will see France leading,
with nearly 100MW installed, closely followed by the UK with ~80MW. Also
in 2021, Japan reaches 41MW, Spain enters with up to three full-scale demos
and China’s Shanghai Electric will commission a single floating Siemens
Although the UK takes an early lead, current plans do not include a route
to market for new floating wind; support ceased in 2018 with termination
of the ROC scheme.
Cleaning up offshore and preparing to export
With abundant cheap hydropower (96% of electricity production) and adequate
onshore space for turbines, there is no obvious Norwegian case for deploying
offshore wind. Nonetheless, the industry has ambitions for 3GW of offshore
wind by 2030 with the majority being floating. The business case includes
cutting CO2 emissions in the offshore oil and gas sector, and stimulating
a $5 billion (~€4.4 billion) export opportunity into a rapidly expanding
global floating wind market.
Whilst emissions in Norway are declining, those in its oil and gas sector
have ballooned 250% since 1990, and now contribute 28% towards the country’s
total. With the low hanging fruit taken, fulfilling Norway’s climate goals
now requires the petroleum industry to cut its CO2 emissions by 15m t/yr.
Following two investigations into 15 potential sites for offshore wind
projects off Norway, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy announced in
Q3 2018 that ‘one or two areas’ will be opened for development, and that
they are likely to be motivated by decarbonisation of electricity generation
on existing oil and gas platforms. The Minister of Petroleum and Energy
laid out the position of industry and government: ‘… industry has called
for a demonstration and pilot facility … enabling Norwegian technology
and competence to develop in order to compete in a quickly evolving and
growing global market. A part of our offshore wind strategy is to strengthen
the supplier industry. I don’t expect to see a lot of offshore windmills
in Norway. We have far more accessible and unexploited wind resources onshore,
but it is important to develop the industry in a new segment that has great
Electrical giant ABB and think-tank Zero are proposing a three-stage journey
to 3 GW:
Developing offshore projects in Norway requires a concession from the Ministry
and an EIA (as has been granted to the fixed-bottom Havsul project). The
Offshore Energy Act 2010 provides exceptions to this requirement, which
are likely to encompass power plants for offshore O&G installations,
but the legislation is ambiguous. Hence Tampen was regulated instead via
the Petroleum Act.
Subsidies will be required to stimulate investment and develop the supply
chain to be competitive, firstly in delivering power to replace gas-generation
on offshore platforms and then to compete with onshore electricity. At
present there is no dedicated subsidy specific to offshore wind, fixed
or floating, while the existing certificate scheme for all wind expires
in 2021 and is unlikely to be replaced. Innovative renewable energy projects
are eligible for support through Enova’s subsidy mechanism, but the scheme
is not intended, nor designed, to deliver energy policy, e.g. via auctions
for stable revenue streams. According to parliamentary debate, Hywind Tampen
is seeking up to €300m in subsidies from Enova for the up to €510m project
(CAPEX). The NOx fund - an industry backed pot for NOx emissions reduction
- will also provide up to €57m in CAPEX support.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy announced that
an opening proposal for a 0,5-1,5GW Utsira Nord will be sent in Summer
2019, potentially including an opening for a 1-2GW Sørlige Nordsjø II,
two, out of the four ‘Category A’, areas identified as feasible for offshore
wind, with good technical-economic conditions and opportunities for network
connection by 2025. As this document went to press the Ministry also requested
opinion on a third ‘Category A’ site, Sandskallen-Sørøya Nord, in the
arctic circle whose 27-70m water depths and proximity to shore make it
suitable for both fixed and floating foundations, and pilot sites. The
government has confirmed that there will be no new subsidies for these
areas despite ministerial support.
An opposition (Labour) led proposal supportive of developing offshore wind
is currently being evaluated by the Energy and Environment Committee. The
group is calling for:
- several offshore wind
areas to be opened to support floating wind supply chain development;
- initiation of North
Sea cooperation with a view to exports to Europe;
- ambitions to develop
3 GW by 2030;
- a goal of 10% market
share of the global turnover in the offshore wind market;
- a goal to reduce O&G
emissions through offshore wind; and
- a turnover of kr50
billion (€5.17 billion) by 2030.
It also suggests that giving Statnett responsibility for developing and
operating a future offshore power grid in the North Sea will facilitate
a Norwegian market for new maritime energy technology, including offshore
wind power, with test centres and offshore energy parks.
In 2018, alongside Hywind Tampen, Equinor, and Aker BP announced plans
to develop a floating project for the 100% electrification of the upcoming
North of Alvheim Krafla Askja (NOAKA) project. So far, conflicts have delayed
progress, but an expected FID end-2019/early-2020 will shed light on NOAKA’s
future floating project.
This is just a short excerpt from 4C's new, concise 58-page report Floating
Wind: Changing Gear which provides a detailed analysis of the global
floating wind market, an outlook of growth to 2030 and an in-depth review
of the various floating designs and their current development plans.
The full report is available to subscribers here.
Non-subscribers can obtain details and samples by inquiring here
or via email@example.com.
The full report contains details of 14 different country markets for floating
wind and 27 different floating designs, across 58 pages and 47 figures.
Includes easily referable, at-a-glance project pipelines and tech-summaries.