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Seizing the opportunities offered by Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW)

 A capacity audience of over 30 delegates attended a special seminar on 12th September at The Enterprise Space for Advanced Manufacturing in St Austell. Hosted by the Marine-i team, the theme of the day was: The Great South West Floating Wind Strategy – Defining the Challenge.

The Opportunity

Based on expected deployment levels, floating wind will be cost-competitive with bottom-fixed offshore wind by 2031. The UK should therefore expect to deploy floating wind from the 2030s at the latest, but action is needed now to ensure the UK can realise substantial value from this advancing market.

Our Valuable Resources

The UK (particularly Scotland and the South West) has an abundance of consistent, high-speed wind resource in deep-water sites, both close to, and further from, shore. Making use of these sites will become increasingly important as sites suitable for bottom-fixed offshore wind are built out and space-related conflict with other marine users increases. The UK offshore wind’s sector deal vision of 50GW by 2050 can be enabled with 10GW of floating wind; and reaching towards the upper end of industry ambition of 69GW is likely to require at least 20GW of floating wind.

The Need for Clean Energy

The UK’s Clean Growth Strategy recognises the value and importance of developing and investing in world-leading low-carbon technologies, to secure sustainable clean energy supply. The growing global market, the UK’s current lead and potential for future deployment, the ability to locate projects in locations not accessible by bottom-fixed wind and the cross-over with existing supply chain strengths in offshore wind and oil & gas all combine to make FLOW a natural fit.

The Global Context

Credible industry developers and financial backers are currently developing and assessing the   opportunities for commercial-scale floating wind deployment. Market development is currently being driven by a number of countries, including the UK. Key players are emerging as Japan, USA, France, China, Taiwan, Korea, Norway, Spain and Portugal and these countries represent growing export opportunities, but also competition, for UK companies.

A Requirement for Innovation and Investment

The UK supply chain is well-placed to capitalise on the market opportunity and this includes a significant number of companies located in the South West. There is a big opportunity to export existing UK strengths in development, design, engineering and maintenance, but investment in key ports and fabrication facilities is required in order to unlock the full potential value in terms of jobs and Gross Value Add (GVA). A healthy domestic market will underpin ongoing UK export success.

Defining the Building Blocks for a South West Strategy for FLOW

The Seminar heard from a broad range of expert speakers, including the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, Principle Power, Simply Blue Energy, and Regen South West. Some of the key issues arising from the presentations and roundtable discussions were:

·        The need for technology balance in the South West

·        The Policy, Revenue and Market support that will be required

·        The challenges facing Technology Developers and Project Developers

·        The hurdles that must be overcome in order to “industrialise” FLOW

·        The constraints regarding planning, grid, ports, infrastructure and supply chain capacity

·        How to learn from the experience of other countries so that the South West can become a global leader in this field

·        How to provide a compelling case for UKG, TCE and investors in order to support major investment decisions

·        The enabling actions that will be required to move forward, especially Finance, RD&I support, SME support, and Skills and Training.

Next Steps

This was a very fruitful session which mapped out the needs of all the key stakeholders in developing a successful South West Strategy for FLOW.

The feedback from delegates was overwhelmingly positive, and it was agreed to hold a follow-up session in the near future to continue building the strategy.