Offshore wind developments hindered by floating fixation

Deep-water offshore wind development is being hindered by a focus on floating wind at the expense of fixed-bottom or buoyant foundations.

floating wind
Image by Thomas G. from Pixabay

This is the view of Singapore headquartered Enterprize Energy, a low carbon energy developer that said it is taking a ‘resource-first’ approach to the energy transition.

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The Carbon Trust has found that development at deep water sites of over 60m would boost European offshore wind capacity by 4TW and US capacity by 2TW. To unlock this capacity turbine foundations need to be installed in areas with siting challenges such as uneven seabed and powerful tidal conditions.

In a statement, Ian Hatton, chairman, Enterprize Energy commented: “Floating platform designs are lauded as the solution to deep-water challenges, with a number of exciting projects having demonstrated commercial viability at certain sites. However, the positioning of floating wind as the primary route to unlocking deep-water capacity at a global scale is stifling the development of regional production hubs and impacting the cost-effectiveness of potential projects. Innovative foundation designs beyond floating platforms must not be left out of the conversation.”

One foundation design that has a core role in enabling deep water development is the Articulated Wind Column initiative led by ODE in partnership with AWC Tech Ltd – a buoyant, vertical structure with a fixed, iron-ore base. According to Enterprize Energy, Articulated Wind Columns can be constructed at sites over 110m deep with a compact footprint which allows for a greater number of turbines and more flexible placement than floating wind. Furthermore, these designs can be constructed from materials that can be manufactured in regional hubs close to the site of the offshore wind project.

Hatton said: “As an industry, we have to consider which technology will work best for the proposed site and the communities surrounding it. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel with each step we take towards cleaning up our energy supply – for example, articulated columns have more than four decades of proven use in the oil and gas industry. If we adopt and adapt tried and tested deep-water innovations such as this, the benefits to local manufacturing, levelised cost of energy, and investor risk will be enormous.”