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A new report released from the Floating Wind Joint Industry Project (Floating Wind JIP) outlines the key technology challenges and priority innovation needs for the sector to reach cost parity with other energy technologies.

Despite only 50 MW of floating wind power being installed globally, the nascent sector is already gearing up for large-scale commercial projects that could reach multiple gigawatts of installed power by the end of the next decade.

The Floating Wind JIP has been established to accelerate the development of solutions, starting with a focus on electrical systems, mooring systems, and logistics for construction and operation. The findings from these studies have seeded four new projects, recently kicked off in 2018.

Among the key findings, a study on electrical system requirements delivered by Petrofac identified the lack of suitable dynamic cables to export power back to shore as a significant bottleneck. In response, the Carbon Trust has recently kicked off a project that will aim to accelerate the development of high voltage dynamic power cables (>132kV). Qualification of electrical equipment for floating substations is another key requirement.

An assessment of mooring systems led by Ramboll identified several learnings from the oil and gas industry, but also highlighted the need for dedicated solutions for the floating wind sector. In particular, synthetic mooring line materials offer potential cost savings compared to conventional steel chain or wire moorings, if de-risked for long-term application. The large volume of mooring lines and anchors required in commercial projects means that there is also a need for efficient approaches to installation, in addition to operations and maintenance. The latter has triggered a new study into optimal monitoring and inspection regimes across a floating wind farm.

Infrastructure and logistics will be critical to cost reduction efforts and opening new markets for offshore wind power. A study led by London Offshore Consultants (LOC) assessed the requirements and methods to construct and operate a 500 MW floating wind farm, highlighting the importance of adopting serial manufacturing processes. Major component repairs was also identified as a key area that requires further investigation, which has led to the commissioning of a new study into heavy lift offshore operations.

A final study to be delivered in 2018 will investigate turbine design requirements and the impact of large next generation turbines (10-15 MW capacity) on floating foundations.

The Floating Wind JIP is a collaborative research and development initiative between the Carbon Trust, Scottish Government, and twelve offshore wind developers: EnBW, ENGIE, Eolfi, E.ON, Iberdrola, innogy, Kyuden Mirai Energy, Ørsted, Shell, Statoil, Vattenfall, and Wpd.
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