New research investigating challenges to floating wind expansion

24 Sep 2020

By Ben Moverley Smith, IDCORE student at Xodus Group

A new collaborative research project between industry and academia is looking to understand the key barriers to the large-scale deployment of floating wind farms. The research, led by Xodus Group through the IDCORE programme, is in partnership with the universities of Edinburgh, Exeter, and Strathclyde, as well as Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS).  The study aims to improve the bankability of floating wind projects through the development of tools and methodologies.

As a first step, the researchers are looking to engage with stakeholders in offshore wind, via a short survey to better understand the main concerns of key players in this fast-moving industry.

Floating wind’s buoyant outlook

Many are expecting floating wind technology to revolutionise the offshore wind sector. The ability of floating turbines to be deployed in much deeper waters means that a multitude of new regions are now areas for development. Countries which have so far been unable to benefit from their windy shores, due to the deep water, suddenly have access to a new resource. Offshore wind will be key for many governments to meet their carbon targets by the middle of the century and for countries with deep waters floating wind represents a much-needed pathway to do so.

Already, countries such as Japan and China have announced big aspirations for floating wind, while large developers have already begun scouting the best areas in Taiwan and Korea. The opportunity unlocked by the development of floating wind has led to a substantial pipeline of potential new projects being developed; recent projections suggest that global floating wind capacity will increase tenfold by 2025 to an installed capacity of more than 1 GW, and is expected to quadruple in two years to around 5 GW in 2027.

Risky business

However, there is a gap between the ambitions of the sector and what we can currently build and deploy safely and cost-effectively.  At present there are only 16 demonstrator floating wind turbines in the whole world, compared with the hundreds planned for installation in the next five years. The larger scales represent uncharted territory and need to be well planned. Already, a series of failed and delayed projects provide a warning for what can go wrong when projects encounter unforeseen problems.

Research requirements

There are numerous issues that will need to be overcome if the forecast projects are to be completed and profitable. The challenges we face come from across the techno-economic-environment landscape, and whilst some are understood and currently being investigated, there are several concerns around the risks to the expected growth in floating wind, which may not be receiving adequate attention.

In order to identify and prioritise these issues, Xodus Group and the IDCORE programme have created a survey to understand the current concerns for floating wind stakeholders, and how they might be addressed by dedicated research. By collecting and collating the opinions of different stakeholders in the floating wind industry, the project hopes to be able to provide information on which areas are most in need of research and undertake research on one of those key areas.

Contribute your views

The project is seeking to engage with individuals who have some involvement in the floating wind sector, whether they work within government, academia, or industry. By participating in this research, you will have the opportunity to express your biggest concerns, highlight key areas that would benefit from dedicated research, and suggest solutions.  If you feel you can contribute to this discussion, please complete this short survey.

Link to Survey

An analysis of responses will be made available to all participants. It should be noted, that individual results (including details of those participating) will not be shared beyond the research team.

About the author

Ben Moverley Smith is based at Edinburgh University and is currently in his second year of the IDCORE programme. The programme is focussed on producing research that benefits the offshore renewable energy industry. His project is with Xodus Group, focussing on improving the bankability of offshore wind