Plans for floating wind energy projects off the UK coast receive a funding boost

This 2018 image shows a floating wind turbine in waters off the coast of France.

SEBASTIEN SALOM GOMIS | AFP | Getty Images

Eleven projects focusing on floating wind technology are one step closer to completion following an investment tranche aimed at making the most of Britain’s windswept shores.

The UK government said it will invest a total of £31.6 million (about $42.57 million) in the projects. In addition, over £30m in cash is said to come from the private sector.

In a statement, the Government said the money will be used to “develop new technology that will enable turbines to be erected on the windiest parts of the UK coast”.

The projects cover a range of technologies and are spread across the UK. One from Marine Power Systems will receive just over £3.4m and will focus on developing a floating foundation with an integrated wave energy generator.

Another initiative involving SSE Renewables, Maersk Supply Service Subsea, Bridon Bekaert Ropes Group and Copenhagen Offshore Partners will receive more than £9.6million to fund “new mooring system technology, cable protection, floating turbine base designs and an advanced digital monitoring system develop and demonstrate.”

Elsewhere, a project looking to combine a compact floating foundation with an anchoring system will receive £10m of investment. It will also use surveillance technology that will allow operators to plan and carry out offshore maintenance “to save costs of towing back ashore”.

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In recent years, a number of companies have been involved in floating offshore wind projects. Back in 2017, Norwegian company Equinor opened Hywind Scotland, a 30-megawatt facility it calls the first full-scale floating offshore wind farm.

Then, in September 2021, another Norwegian company, Statkraft, announced that a long-term purchase agreement had begun in relation to the world’s “largest” floating offshore wind farm.

Meanwhile, RWE Renewables and Kansai Electric Power announced last August that they had signed an agreement in which they will study the “feasibility of a large floating offshore wind project” in waters off Japan’s coast.

Floating offshore wind turbines differ from ground-based offshore wind turbines that are rooted in the seabed. An advantage of floating turbines over ground-based ones is that they can be installed in deeper waters.

RWE has described floating turbines as being “deployed on floating structures that are attached to the seabed with mooring lines and anchors”.

For its part, the UK government said that floating turbines “would increase energy capacity even further by allowing wind farms to be built in new areas along the UK coast where wind speeds are strongest and most productive”.

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