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‘World first’ floating wind innovation centre opens in Aberdeen

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 dedicated innovation centre for floating offshore wind has opened in Aberdeen.

Described as a “world first” by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, the centre was opened yesterday (18 March) by Scottish first minister Humza Yousaf.

The Catapult’s £9m National Floating Wind Innovation Centre (Flowic), delivered in collaboration with local project ETZ (Energy Transition Zone), is designed to “supercharge” the development of floating offshore wind technology in the UK, with funding from both the Scottish government and Innovate UK.

Floating offshore wind represents a huge economic opportunity, with more than 19GW of potential projects in the pipeline through the ScotWind leasing process, a new leasing round on the horizon in the Celtic Sea, and the prospect of transferring skills from oil and gas.  

“Industry has estimated that floating offshore wind has the potential to deliver over £43bn in UK gross value added by 2050, and create more than 29,000 jobs,” a Catapult announcement said.

Flowic provides unique facilities for companies to develop and ‘derisk’ key technologies. Equipment includes a large ‘dynamic cable flex fatigue rig’ to test and validate the strength, performance and reliability of dynamic subsea cables – a critical component of floating offshore wind farms.

Other equipment includes an anchor test rig to test dynamic anchoring systems, a floating offshore wind scale motion simulator, capable of testing scale structures and electrical and mooring connections, and a virtual reality studio for engineers to test scenarios and challenges.

“Delivering our net zero ambitions will require economic and societal transformation, with sustained investment, both public and private, to achieve it,” said Yousaf. “We know the scale of the change needed. The National Floating Wind Innovation Centre embodies the spirit of collaboration that will drive the offshore wind industry forward.”

He added: “We share a common objective to establish Scotland as a first mover in floating wind technology on an industrial scale, and by seizing this advantage we can position Scotland among the world’s leaders in this groundbreaking industry.”

Andrew Jamieson, chief executive of the ORE Catapult, said: “This facility represents a groundbreaking step forward in the commercialisation of floating offshore wind – a sector that will be critical to meeting our net zero targets.

“When you look at the projected global market demand for floating wind technology over the coming years, the opportunity is eye-watering – dynamic cables alone will be a more than £2bn global market over the next decade.

“Here in the UK we are well-placed to play a leading role in that market by developing the supply chain to support the innovations that will bring this potential to life. Others are chasing the same prize though, so the time is right to make sure Scottish and UK companies are at the front of that race, and this facility is a key part of helping that happen.”

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