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These 22 countries are most ready for the floating offshore wind boom

Professional Engineering

Floating wind turbines are transported to Hywind in Scotland, the first commercial floating wind farm (Credit: Shutterstock)
Floating wind turbines are transported to Hywind in Scotland, the first commercial floating wind farm (Credit: Shutterstock)

A new report by the Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence has identified the 22 countries that are most ready to become major players in the nascent renewable energy technology.

With plans for extensive floating wind farms already in motion and a high level of relevant expertise, the UK came out on top of the list, followed by Japan and France.

Published yesterday (20 June) to coincide with the Global Offshore Wind 2022 event in Manchester, the report by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult centre identified a total of 54 territories as potential floating wind markets.

More than 10GW of floating wind farm capacity is on track to be commissioned by 2030, according to the report, bolstered by increasing policy support. The momentum “must accelerate” to help meet clean energy goals however, the authors said, with the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) calling for 2,000GW of offshore wind capacity to be installed by 2050 as part of its ‘1.5°C Scenario’.

“Floating offshore wind will be critical to offshore wind’s role in the future energy mix, but it also brings its own challenges and opportunities, which means that all offshore wind markets are not ready or suitable for future development. This study provides a critical blueprint of that global expansion, identifying the markets to watch in terms of short-term or long-term readiness as a major floating wind player,” said Craig Brown, principal consultant at London consultancy OWC, which carried out the work.

The analysis screened over 240 territories for their potential readiness for floating wind development, assessing each against minimum ‘technical thresholds’ such as coastal access, offshore wind resources and seabed topography, and by additional socio-economic ‘filters’ to investment.

The report narrowed the list of potential floating wind markets to 54 territories, which pass all thresholds. All 54 territories were further evaluated for short-term or long-term readiness for commercial floating offshore wind development, based on 11 criteria spanning three categories – technical resource and policy drivers, the commercial investment landscape, and floating offshore wind market facilitators.

From Europe, the Americas and the Asia Pacific region, 22 countries fell into the category for short-term development of floating offshore wind between 2022-2035. 32 fell into the long-term category from 2035 to 2050, including countries in Africa.

While the Catapult is based in the same country as the top pick, many important factors make the UK a promising leader in the technology. The government has a target of up to 5GW of floating offshore power by 2030, and more than £24m was allocated to floating wind projects through ‘contracts for difference’ auctions in 2021. It also awarded more than £27m to support the Floating Offshore Demonstration Programme, which is funding 11 projects. In January, a huge leasing round by Crown Estate Scotland represented 25GW of new offshore wind capacity, including roughly two-thirds from floating turbines.

Other promising markets include the Republic of Ireland, which has identified four sites with ideal conditions for floating farms, and France, which plans to spend €300m on development of the industry.

“Installed floating wind capacity currently sits at 0.2GW. To support 2050 net-zero objectives, this capacity will need to grow exponentially,” said Ralph Torr, head of floating wind at the ORE Catapult.

“This study provides an insight into the where, when and how floating offshore wind can develop to become a global industry, and hence plays a critical role in delivering a global net-zero. The study pinpoints the leading markets to deliver on a possible 10GW by 2030, and identifies how these markets can pave the way for widespread deployment across the globe in the later 2030s and 2040s.”

The Centre of Excellence’s full list of 22 potential near-term markets, listed in order of readiness, is as follows:

  1. United Kingdom
  2. Japan
  3. France
  4. South Korea
  5. Taiwan
  6. Norway
  7. United States
  8. China
  9. Portugal
  10. Ireland
  11. Italy
  12. Spain
  13. Vietnam
  14. Greece
  15. Poland
  16. Sweden
  17. Philippines
  18. Brazil
  19. Denmark
  20. Australia
  21. Canada
  22. India

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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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