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Seizing the opportunity for Floating Offshore Wind in the Celtic Sea

By Matt Hodson, Marine Hub Operations Director - Cornwall Development Company

The Potential

Carbon Trust analysis indicates that optimum depths for floating offshore wind (FLOW) technologies are 100m-250m, which limits large scale deployment in Britain to just two primary sea areas, one being the Celtic Sea.

Preliminary geospatial analysis suggests that the Celtic Sea wind resource could be in excess of 100GW. Furthermore, Cornwall is home to world-leading offshore renewable energy (ORE) companies, Wales to high-quality heavy engineering, and the Great South West to high-quality supply chain capacity.

The Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (CIOS LEP), with Marine Energy Wales (MEW), is leading a regional initiative to build-out FLOW in the Celtic Sea, through a roadmap of projects – including the world’s first 500MW FLOW farm – with a target of 1GW Celtic Sea installed capacity and subsidy-free commercial operations by 2030.

In terms of benefits, the OREC supply chain report suggests that direct spend into South West/ South Wales business from FLOW in the Celtic Sea could be in the region of £650m by the early 2030’s.

Moreover, the global market is forecast to reach 100GW by 2050 which means a substantial export market for those businesses maximising first mover advantage in the UK markets.


The role for Marine-i as a catalyst for development

The deployment of FLOW in the Celtic Sea represents a once in a generation opportunity to drive investment and economic growth in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The political will, investor appetite and regulatory requirements are all aligning with the first 90MW+ developments already in planning. What is now essential is the UK supply chain’s response to the industrialisation requirements of this technology in order to ensure the Offshore Wind Sector deal target of 60% UK content can be achieved.

Marine-i will support RD&I developments with the industry to enable technology that will answer key questions that need to be resolved in order for FLOW in the Celtic Sea to reach its full potential.


The challenges

There are fundamental questions which need to be answered across a number of technology areas including infrastructure, balance of plant, primary/ secondary steel, assembly and more. Businesses and Research Institutes located in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are well placed to tackle some of the key questions around integrated installation and O&M strategies. This key area drives port infrastructure requirements and has a major impact on the levelized cost of energy.

Minimum research outputs could include:

                Cost models capable of parametric studies to determine most effective industrialised solutions,

                Technical specifications of required/ ideal vessel, equipment, port/ infrastructure needs for most effective industrialised solutions,

                Business model for solution, outline required capital/ investment and likely ROI.

This would provide the basis for further technology development with a target of providing solutions into the market by 2023.


Making it happen

Marine-i is in a unique position to act as a real catalyst for innovation which has national and international significance. As the only Marine Technology programme strategically focussed on RD&I areas which include Energy and Clean Growth, we have the ideal blend of Research Institutes and Industry Focussed groups to take a lead in:

                Developing the key research aims in collaboration with large industrial players, the SME community and wider industry stakeholders

                Building collaborations/ consortia with the capability to develop co-created technology which solves identified challenges,

                Develop a nationally/ internationally recognised legacy of genuine triple helix co-operation/ collaboration resulting in globally leading disruptive innovation, solutions and economic growth.


Next steps

As a part of this process, Marine-i is running a series of Discovery Room events with key players in the industry. The next session will aim to define the overarching research aims. Following on from this Marine-i will:

                Solicit, receive and consider expressions of interest from potential participants

                Create a long list of potential technology solutions, required feasibility studies, key requirements

Marine-i invites marine businesses to engage in this exciting development. Further information, including event dates, will be posted to our website.

View the FLOW Discovery Room event held by Marine-i here

Download the slides here

Download the presentation here

 Photo Credit: Principle Power Inc