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WFO Panel Discusses Key Technology Considerations for Floating Offshore Wind in Taiwan

4C Offshore | Laurence Bonning-Schmitt
By: Laurence Bonning-Schmitt 11/07/2022 Laurence Bonning-Schmitt & James Bernthal-Hooker
Taiwan’s ports need a master plan in the near future, according to panelists at World Forum Offshore’s (WFO’s) Floating Offshore Wind Mini Series.
Panel B of the mini-series delved into key technology considerations for successfully delivering floating offshore wind in Taiwan. Moderator Richard Burch of the British Trade Office led the discussion, with other panel members from CSBC, Dong Fang Offshore, NIRAS, Taiya Renewable Energy, CIP, and MIRDC offering insights on the topic, “Accommodating the Best Floating Technologies”.

The panel kicked off with a look at the current state of floating offshore wind technology.  Pointing out that the industry is presently moving out of the research phase and into commercial development. Scotland, Norway, Portugal, France, and Japan are already working on prototypes using a variety of technologies.

Taiwan’s reluctant attitude towards moving to floating foundations rather than fixed is a hot topic for the local industry, as more than 60% of Taiwan’s ideal conditions for wind farms are in waters over 50 metres deep, which best suits floating offshore wind farms. Since floating technology is new and yet undeveloped in Taiwan, it is felt that stakeholders in government, industry, and academia need to look into the foundations, components, and installation techniques that best suit local conditions and then develop Taiwan’s infrastructure, maritime support, and supply chain to meet those needs.

Perhaps the primary technology consideration is foundation design. Mike Chou, Vice President of CSBC, stated: “While a number of factors including cost effectiveness, ease of construction, stability, and robustness go into foundation design, the primary factor is ease of localization. For this reason, the use of locally plentiful materials such as concrete for floating foundations is an attractive alternative to steel, which must be imported.” CSBC is collaborating with researchers at National Taiwan University to develop new floating turbine foundation technologies.

During Panel B, several types of foundation were also discussed. Taiya is looking into damping pool and semi-submersible foundation technologies due to their stability in extreme conditions. Water depth, localization, and shipyard dimensions will also influence the company’s final choice of design. Meanwhile, CIP is studying Stejskal’s Tetra concept, a modular design that supports reduced costs through fast assembly using the existing local supply chain.

Due to technology differences with fixed-bottom and the sheer size of the floaters, new fleet requirements and installation techniques will also be needed. It was pointed out that:

(1) the need for more tugs and other specialized vessels may prove challenging to vessel operators.

(2) Taiwanese operators lack experience installing and anchoring mooring lines at such depths and may have to outsource this task, at least initially.

(3) Taiya considers a catenary mooring system with a drag anchor and a lazy wave dynamic power cable as most suited to local sea conditions.

(4) infrastructure improvements at Taiwan’s ports are vital to the success of floating offshore wind development. So far, only CSBC’s shipyard has the capacity to handle the big floaters.

The panel expressed an opinion that planning needs to begin on a master plan for Taiwan’s port infrastructure in the immediate future, preferably as a part of Taiwan’s next five-year development plan. Noting that everything from storage and assembly space near the drydock, transport to the quayside, launching, and the draught of the floaters needs to be considered in future plans, especially since ports will be full to the bursting with fixed-bottom turbines and components in the near future.

All the panel members agreed that a demo project is necessary for determining which technology, installation, and infrastructure choices will work best for Taiwan. There is still a small window of time to launch such a project before Round 3 wind farm projects begin to fill up Taiwan’s ports in 2027.


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