Plans for floating wind energy projects off UK’s coastline get millions in funding boost

Environment

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This image, from 2018, shows a floating wind turbine in waters off the coast of France.
SEBASTIEN SALOM GOMIS | AFP | Getty Images

Eleven projects centered around floating wind technology are a step closer to fruition following a tranche of investment aimed at making the most of Britain’s windy coastlines.

The U.K. government said it would invest a total of £31.6 million (around $42.57 million) in the projects. In addition, over £30 million of cash is set to come from private industry.

In a statement, the government said the money would be used to “develop new technologies that will enable turbines to be located in the windiest parts around the UK’s coastline.”

The projects incorporate a range of technologies and are spread across the U.K. One, from Marine Power Systems, will receive a little over £3.4 million and focus on the development of a floating foundation with an integrated wave energy generator.

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

Elsewhere, a scheme looking to combine a compact floating foundation with an anchoring system will receive £10 million of investment. It will also harness monitoring tech that will enable operators to plan and undertake maintenance offshore, “saving on costs of towing back to shore.”

Over the past few years, a number of firms have become involved with floating offshore wind projects. Back in 2017 Norway’s 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, said a long-term purchasing agreement relating to the “world’s largest” floating offshore wind farm had started.

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

Floating offshore wind turbines are different to bottom-fixed offshore wind turbines that are rooted to the seabed. One advantage of floating turbines over bottom-fixed ones is that they can be installed in deeper waters.

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

For its part, the U.K. government said floating turbines would “boost energy capacity even further by allowing wind farms to be situated in new areas around the UK coastline where wind strengths are at their highest and most productive.”

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