Floating offshore wind has been transitioning from something a bit off the wall and remote to something much more mature over the last year, but the bulk of business activity may not be apparent to all.

The visible activity includes:

  • WindFloat Atlantic being commissioned in July even in the midst of the COVID19 pandemic
  • Kincardine being commissioned later in the year
  • Hywind Tampen moving into its construction phase
  • Further progress in France for the first group of four demonstrator projects and firm support for the larger follow on projects.

What may be less visible is the increasing maturity in this industry as major players consolidate to develop significant floating portfolios:

  • Shell bought Eolfi
  • Total and Simply Blue Energy have formed a joint venture, Blue Gem Wind, for the Erebus project
  • Aker and Kvaerner are forming a development arm, with a focus on deeper waters
  • Ideol partnered with JERA (Japan’s largest utility company) to develop floating projects in Japan

There are also leasing rounds and support schemes (or advanced discussion around support schemes) active in the UK, Norway, Korea and California (as well as France). This maturity means that the finance will follow, with the equity players already poised and the lenders that felt comfortable in bottom-fixed in a position to feel the same way in floating.

I say “bring on the larger floating offshore wind projects”. This factor in the pathway needs testing just as much as the individual components – construction and operations at 300MW needs very different processes to 30MW. The players have performed well in what they have achieved so far, so there is every expectation that they will perform well again at the next stage. Finally, we need these projects to go ahead and to learn from them so that in Europe, Asia, and the US we hit our carbon reduction targets.

Kate Freeman