UK leads the way in global floating wind energy boom

Professional Engineering

Turbines are transported to Hywind in Scotland, the world's first floating wind farm (Credit: Shutterstock)
Turbines are transported to Hywind in Scotland, the world's first floating wind farm (Credit: Shutterstock)

The UK is leading the way in a global charge for floating offshore wind energy projects, new research has found.

Planned floating wind farms would generate 8.8GW of power for the UK, according to the research by RenewableUK.  

The trade organisation found the total global ‘pipeline’ stands at over 54GW, if all of those planned are built. The pipeline includes projects from an early stage of development through to those which are fully operational. 

Over half of this is in Europe, which has a total 30.9GW planned. Ireland has 7.7GW in the pipeline, Sweden 6.2GW and Italy 3.7GW. Norway, Spain and France are also planning to deploy floating wind at scale.     

The world’s first floating wind farm, Hywind, has been operating in Scottish waters since 2017, and a second floating project, Kincardine, is almost fully operational.  

A significant number of floating wind farms are expected to come forward as a result of the ongoing ScotWind leasing process by Crown Estate Scotland, which has received over 70 applications overall, to install up to 10GW of new fixed-foundation and floating wind capacity. In July, the Crown Estate confirmed that 300MW of new floating projects have been given the green light to progress to the next stage of assessment in the Celtic Sea.   

This week, the government announced a dedicated budget of £24m to support floating projects in the next 'contract for differences’ auction, which opens in December.  

Outside of Europe, the most important global players in floating wind are Australia on 7.4GW, South Korea on 7.1GW and the USA, which has a pipeline of 5.5GW. Taiwan has a pipeline of 1.5GW and Japan 1.3GW. China and Saudi Arabia are also planning projects. 

The research was published today (15 September) at the start of RenewableUK’s Floating Offshore Wind conference and exhibition in Aberdeen, which includes keynote speeches from senior members of the Scottish and Welsh governments.  

Speaking at the event this morning, Michael Matheson, cabinet secretary for net zero in the Scottish government, said: “Scotland’s huge deep water potential means we expect floating offshore wind will be vital in our transition to a net zero economy. Scotland is already leading the world in floating wind, and we’ll do everything in our power to maintain our support and ensure we remain at the forefront of this innovative technology.  

“The ongoing ScotWind leasing process has the potential to transform the energy sector in Scotland, including the transfer of oil and gas workers into renewables and into floating offshore wind in particular – we need to make the most of it”.    

Julie James MS, the Welsh government minister for climate change, said: “The offshore renewable energy sector is an engine of growth for coastal communities. Floating offshore wind is at the centre of our thinking as the sector is entering an exciting stage of development. We’re working at pace to provide solutions for the rapid roll out of this technology in Wales.” 

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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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