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RenewableUK and Scottish Renewables unveil vision for UK’s floating wind industry

RenewableUK and Scottish Renewables have released a joint report which sets out the industry’s vision for the UK’s cutting-edge floating offshore wind sector.

Image: RenewableUKImage: RenewableUK

Floating Wind – The UK Industry Ambition” states that this technology is necessary for the UK to reach its legally-binding net zero carbon emissions target by 2050 and to fulfil Scotland’s commitment to achieve this by 2045.

The industry estimates that floating wind can support 17,000 UK jobs by 2050, particularly in coastal communities in England, Scotland and Wales, delivering £33.6bn of economic activity (GVA). This represents a return of £15 for each £1 invested in early stage support.

To date most offshore wind has been built using solid foundations directly attached to the seabed, with turbines installed on top. In deeper waters, however, this is not an effective solution so the industry is adapting technology from North Sea oil and gas rigs, where floating platforms are tethered to the seabed. The world’s first floating offshore wind farm, Hywind, was installed in 2017 off the coast of Peterhead in Scotland and another, Kincardine, is under construction in Scottish waters.

The report highlights the fact that, thanks to our global lead in this innovative technology, the UK is in a unique position to export floating wind worldwide to emerging markets with deep-water coastlines, like China, Japan, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan and the USA. This market is expected to be worth at least £230m a year by 2031 to UK exporters.

The study suggests that the Government should use the CfD auction framework to create a specific pot of funding for innovative technologies like floating wind. This will secure an increase in new capacity from 32MW now to up to 2GW by 2030, making floating wind cost-competitive by that date.

The report also calls for potential sites to be made available all around the UK, and for Government and industry to invest jointly in new infrastructure supporting the development of floating wind at part of the UK’s Industrial Strategy. A clear pipeline of commercial-scale projects will bring about cost reduction through economies of scale. The ScotWind leasing process provides an opportunity for the development of floating wind in Scottish waters.  

RenewableUK’s Head of Policy and Regulation, Rebecca Williams, said “The renewable energy sector has built its success on delivering innovation; floating wind is a prime example of what we can achieve. Our vision is to do much more at scale, securing further cost reduction and much-needed new capacity.

“As we build even further out to sea into deeper waters, floating wind will unlock new areas for us to make use of our state of the art technology. We want to work with Government to maximise the extraordinary opportunities offered by this cutting-edge technology in which the UK leads the world””.

Morag Watson, Director of Policy of Scottish Renewables, said “Scotland’s offshore energy experience and our deep water wind resource means we’re already a world leader in floating wind – technology which will be necessary to meet our net-zero emissions target and offers the most cost-effective pathway to delivering more than 50GW of offshore wind in UK waters.

"This publication sets out how government, working with industry, as agreed in the Offshore Wind Sector Deal, can identify and deliver joint investments in the infrastructure which will underpin the development of floating wind and its supply chain, supporting the development of the UK Industrial Strategy.”

Overall, the UK has the potential to install 75GW of offshore wind capacity (including floating wind) by 2050, up from 8.5GW now, to reach net zero by the most cost-effective pathway.

The UK’s largest floating wind conference and exhibition, “Floating Offshore Wind UK 2019” is taking place in Aberdeen today, organised by RenewableUK and Scottish Renewables. The event highlights the global opportunities for developers and supply chain companies.

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