Floating offshore wind is no longer consigned to the laboratory: it’s a viable technology ready to be rolled out on an industrial scale, according to the latest report from WindEurope released at the Offshore Wind Energy 2017 event in London.
Not only has the technology for floating offshore wind reached maturity, costs are also predicted to plummet in the coming years. One of the key advantages of floating offshore wind is that turbines are located further away from shores in areas with higher average wind speeds without depth constraints.
Turbines can be significantly larger on floating installations and construction, installation, operation and maintenance costs could be lower than on fixed sites. Capacity can thus be improved leading to an increased generation of electricity, allowing for cost reductions of 10% by 2020 and 25% by 2030, WindEurope said.
Ivan Pineda, WindEurope Director for Public Affairs, said: “Floating offshore wind is no longer an R&D exercise. The technology has developed rapidly in recent years and it is now ready to be fully commercialised at utility scale projects. Adding this option to the market means more offshore wind in total and it’s this extra capacity that we will need to meet the 2030 goals.”
Floating offshore wind offers a vast potential for growth. 80% of all the offshore wind resource is located in waters 60m and deeper in European seas, where traditional bottom-fixed offshore is less attractive. At 4,000 GW, it is significantly more than the resource potential of the U.S. and Japan combined.
Tapping into this inexhaustible resource will be key to expanding the overall capacity of offshore wind and support the EU in reaching the target of 27% of energy by renewables by 2030.
As highlighted in WindEurope’s latest report, Unleashing Europe’s offshore wind potential, offshore as a whole could in theory generate between 2,600 TWh and 6,000 TWh per year at a competitive cost – EUR 65/MWh or below, representing 80%-180% of the EU’s total electricity demand.