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The Growth of the Floating Offshore Wind Sector

  • Publish Date: Posted about 1 month ago
  • Author:by Alex White

“Floating offshore wind power is a technology revolution.” - Iberdrola

After years of strategising, the world’s first floating offshore wind farm was launched in 2017.

Situated just 29 kilometres off the coastline in Scotland, Hywind Scotland boasts five turbines that are producing a current capacity of 30 MW - powering between 12,000 to 27,000 homes in the area.

Floating wind farms quickly proved to be an incredible and growth-sustaining innovation for our industry, demonstrating that the offshore wind sector could continue growing without:

A. Doing life-long damage to ocean floors.

B. Disrupting marine ecosystems in the area.

This was an exciting revolution; one that unlocked a whole new layer of potential for the future of wind energy.

What are floating wind farms?

Rather than embedding turbines directly into the ocean floor like before, floating wind farms sit on a platform, which is then moored to an anchor in the seabed below. The idea is that the anchor remains as a permanent fixture, and connects to multiple turbines - reducing the number of entry points into the ocean floor.

Where are the floating wind farms?

As of April 2022, there were only three operational floating windfarms in the world - with two in Scotland and one in Portugal. However, Japan and China were the two countries able to boast the first ever floating turbine being launched to sea. They continue to work towards launching their own projects, with France not far behind.

The growth of the floating offshore wind sector

Over the years, Hywind Scotland has been studied by the offshore wind industry. The findings have been used to demonstrate the feasibility and scalability of such an invention, generating incredibly positive results and transforming perceptions about floating farms.

Today, researchers Equinor and Masdar firmly believe that floating wind farms are the “future of our industry”, and have even pledged a 2 billion krone investment into R&D in the sector.

This is just the beginning.

The offshore wind sector has reached a critical (and exciting) turning point, with the majority of investors and energy firms now considering the adoption of floating wind farms. As it stands, there are already multiple projects underway worldwide, and this number is expected to keep growing at an impressive rate.

As such, a recent GlobeNewsWire report has predicted that the sector will hit $59.24 billion in value by 2027 - exhibiting an unprecedented 82.2% CAGR. Only time will tell if this number is truly accurate or not, but, considering the industry’s movements, it doesn’t seem out of reach. With such numerous benefits offered by the use of floating offshore wind farms, firms in the sector would be remiss to ignore such an advantageous innovation.

Why?

The worldwide trend for businesses to be as sustainable and ethical as possible is going to continue to encourage investors toward floating offshore wind farms - making project funding significantly easier.

Additionally, with offshore wind farms proven to be flexible and agile in terms of location, governments should be more willing to approve the use of their land for sustainable energy generation.

The benefits of floating offshore wind farms

Other than social pressure, there are numerous reasons as to why floating offshore wind farms are quickly growing in popularity. It ultimately comes down to both ethics and convenience.

1. Sustainability

For an innovation to be truly sustainable, it needs to be environmentally, socially, and economically friendly. Floating wind farms are exactly that.

As previously discussed, the construction of these systems does significantly less damage to the ocean floor, but they are less disruptive to coastal views - where the general public have been complaining for years that wind turbines are an “eyesore” (Source: Power Technology).

Plus, they are also far more cost-efficient, where turbines can be created on land before being moored out to sea. This means a smaller number of vessels and crew are required at each farm.

(Source: SNC Lavalin)

2. Capacity

Finally, floating offshore wind farms could have almost unlimited potential when it comes to selecting locations that produce the strongest level of winds.

Soon, the world might be able to rely on a consistent source of energy that could solve our global crisis.

The tests conducted on the Hywind Scotland project have revealed that the technology is “suitable for harsh conditions” and has a simple three-line mooring system that reduces fatigue and increases production (Source: Equinor).

3. Efficiency

As well as being cheaper to construct, floating wind farms have an incredibly fast average installation time.

The workload isn’t as extensive or demanding as other alternatives, and installation projects which previously took years will now require much shorter commitments from employees. This could mean talent attraction should be much easier in the long run.

And that’s not all.

With floating wind farms being more accessible for entry-level workers, hiring managers will find themselves with more freedom when hiring. Desired skill sets will be much less technical - widening the potential talent pool and driving our industry into the future.

Work with EarthStream

EarthStream connects both qualified and entry-level talent with engaging and challenging renewable energy occupations around the world. We’re already involved in the construction of five floating wind farm projects, and forecast this number to continue to rise.

As governments and businesses invest in sustainable power, infrastructures and technologies, your career path becomes increasingly limitless. Our in-depth knowledge and worldwide connections mean we not only understand your problems, but also solve them.

Speak to one of our experts today.