The Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW) sector is the new technology in the eolian world of renewable energy. FLOW is expected to unlock 80% of global o?shore wind resources located in waters deeper than 50 m. According to European Technology & Innovation Platform on Wind Energy (ETIP Wind), this means that it has the potential to supply more electricity than the entire world consumes today.1 It is the great solution that could cover electricity demand without resorting to polluting sources.
According to Sarens, which recently joined the World Forum Offshore Wind (WFO) - the world's first organisation exclusively dedicated to fostering offshore wind growth worldwide, one of the problems the industry faces when installing offshore wind energy is the depth of the waters. This makes it difficult to install offshore wind farms, which require shallower coasts. Thanks to floating technology, the industry could solve this problem and unleash its full marine energy potential.
In addition, Sarens states that FLOW requires less foundation material, a shortened installation cycle and decommissioning, and can generate additional wind power at water depths exceeding 50 - 60 m. With analysts forecasting a 50% annual growth rate for FLOW over the next five years, the market represents a massive opportunity for marine tech businesses and innovators right across the supply chain.
FLOW technology deploys offshore wind turbines mounted on a floating structure and placed in water depths where bottom-fixed structures are not feasible. According to Sarens, wind turbines can be assembled and pre-commissioned onshore and tow the entire unit to the site offshore. For this, it would be necessary to use transport technical solutions such as Sarens trailers, with a load capacity of 36 - 48 t per axle line. Once they reach the sea, Sarens owns modular barges capable of supporting up to 25 t per square meter, which carry the structure offshore.
Once the unit is assembled onshore, it can be stabilised at sea, applying a semi-submersible concept, single point anchorage (SPAR) buoys, or other technologies. This means that the assembly takes place in a much safer and more controlled environment as compared to traditional bottom-fixed structures, Sarens states.
Floating foundations offers advantages including:
- Efficient harnessing of the enormous wind power available in deeper waters with more consistent and faster winds.
- Ease of installation in deep waters where fixed-bottom structures are either too expensive or too challenging to install.
- Faster development with lower foundation requirements and higher energy yield.
- Environmental benefits compared with fixed-bottom designs due to less-invasive activity on the seabed during installation.
- Stimulation of local supply chain job growth in marine industries where Industrialised coastal regions affected by the decline in shipbuilding will gain the most from reorienting their infrastructure towards floating offshore wind.
"Floating offshore wind energy infrastructures are the future of energy and industry in UK. With an unbeatable geographical location, surrounded by the coast, UK has a great opportunity for reindustrialization into ecological sectors and with enormous potential in floating wind and offshore wind power", said Kleopatra Kyrimi, Global Director of Communication and Marketing at Sarens.
Current situation of floating offshore wind energy
According to World Forum Offshore Wind, the technical potential for floating wind power is around 7.000 GW for Europe, the US, and Japan combined.2
Currently, the only operational floating wind farm of scale is located in the UK, at the Hywind project in Scotland, developed by Equinor and commissioned in October 2017. The farm has five floating turbines with a total capacity of 30 MW. A number of important developments are simultaneously taking place currently in Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, and the USA. The detailed overview of projects can be found here.
Kleopatra Kyrimi stated that "The UK remains the world's biggest offshore wind market with 9.7 GW of installed capacity, but much more offshore windfarms will be needed if we want to reach the objectives set at the last offshore wind energy fair organised by WindEurope, which is to install 212 000 MW in the North Sea."
- ETIP Wind, 'Floating Offshore Wind Fact Sheet', https://etipwind.eu/files/reports/ETIPWind-floating-offshore-wind-factsheet.pdf
- WFO Global Offshore Wind Report, https://wfo-news.de/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/WFO_Global-Offshore-Wind-Report-2019.pdf
Read the article online at: https://www.energyglobal.com/wind/04082020/sarens-discusses-the-potential-of-floating-offshore-wind/