Offshore wind enables countries to take full advantage of the abundant wind resource while revitalizing coastal communities and placing vital energy production near consumption centers.
Offshore wind – both bottom-fixed and floating – can be deployed at scale and relatively quickly compared to other large-scale energy production facilities, and it has been widely recognized as the key to enabling decarbonization trajectories compliant with the Paris Agreement.
Bottom-fixed offshore wind, whereby the turbine is mounted atop a structure embedded into the seabed, has experienced exponential growth over the last decade due to large-scale deployment, technological improvements, infrastructure build-out and supply chain mobilization.
While bottom-fixed offshore wind is established and proven, there are many regions in the world that have limited potential for deploying this technology due to geographic limitations. This technology-specific obstacle presents a great opportunity for the use of floating offshore wind technology, which enables access to deep-water wind resources and unlocks the potential for a worldwide energy transition.
Floating offshore wind has the potential to unlock deep water sites that were previously inaccessible. Floating turbines are mounted on top of the floating foundations anchored to the seabed by mooring lines. This technology is rapidly gaining momentum around the world as the major driver of growth in the offshore wind industry and has several advantages that make it vital to delivering decarbonization of the global power sector.
Previously a handful of full-scale prototypes and small-scale pilot projects, the technical feasibility of floating wind technology is now proven, as illustrated by more large-scale (several hundred MW) commercial projects under development in different countries around the world.
The current cost of floating wind is comparable to bottom-fixed wind 5-7 years ago. Technological advances and declining costs will continue to narrow the gap as this emerging technology opens the full potential of the world’s energy resources by providing access to offshore sites that were previously unable to be developed. That, coupled with expanding decarbonization goals and heightened investment appetite into this sector, will open the door to a previously untapped range of development possibilities.