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Marine-i Welcomes Boost for South West's Floating Offshore Wind Ambitions

Plans to build floating windfarms in the Celtic Sea to generate clean power and create thousands of green jobs have taken a major step forward after being shortlisted by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The South West Floating Offshore Wind Accelerator has been chosen to work up a detailed bid for over £30m of potential government funding provided through UKRI’s flagship Strength in Places Fund. UKRI is providing £50,000 of early-stage funding to support development of the bid following a successful stage one application.

Prof Lars Johanning of the University of Exeter, lead partner for Marine-i, said: “The deployment of industrial scale floating offshore wind (FLOW) in the Celtic Sea represents a once in a generation opportunity to drive investment and economic growth in Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly, Wales and the Great South West. Developer interest and activity has already commenced and there needs to be an industrial response to the supply chain opportunity. This has now seen a further boost.”

The project aims to build on Cornwall and Plymouth’s world-renowned excellence in offshore renewables business and research to fast-track the construction of large scale floating offshore windfarms in the Celtic Sea from the mid-2020s onwards.

The South West Floating Offshore Wind Accelerator is being led by Wave Hub, the Cornwall Council-owned marine renewables research and technology organisation, in collaboration with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), University of Plymouth, University of Exeter, the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, A&P Group, Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council. 

Floating platforms can access stronger winds in deeper waters than conventional fixed offshore wind turbines. The Celtic Sea, which is an area off the coast of Cornwall and West Wales and south of Ireland, has one of the best wind resources in Europe.

A report published earlier this year by ORE Catapult and commissioned by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP and the Welsh Government said a floating wind industry in the Celtic Sea could support 3,200 jobs in the South West and Wales and £682m of spend in the local supply chain by 2030, powering hundreds of thousands of homes.

Nationally the industry could support 17,000 jobs and generate £33.6 billion of economic activity, with huge export potential.

The UKRI’s first stage award will allow the project partners to work up a full stage bid for submission to the SIPF in November, which has £236m available in the latest funding round and makes awards of between £10m and up to £50m in exceptional cases. Awards will be announced next year.

The quality of the South West’s bid was commended by UKRI’s lead on the Strength in Places Fund, David Sweeney, who said: “I am delighted to be able to award early-stage funding to this bid which has great potential to benefit the local area through supporting innovation and sustained growth, and strengthen collaboration between industry and our world-class research base.”

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Photo Credit: Principle Power Inc.