Floating structures are also less intrusive to the sea bed than bottom fixed structures, and provide the potential for increased standardisation and mass-production in the longer term.
The demand for renewables, offshore wind included, has been growing faster than anyone expected. Furthermore, few in the industry had anticipated that cost levels would fall so fast, and the fall in costs would coincide with accelerated growth.
Today, the floating wind market consists almost solely of Hywind Scotland’s 30 MW park. Growth to 12 GW in 2030 will entail a more accelerated rate of growth than was seen for onshore and bottom fixed wind at the outset, but should be possible due to floating offshore wind benefitting from the technological advances and cost reductions already achieved within the bottom-fixed segment.
The development of floating offshore wind power could secure thousands of jobs that currently deliver services and goods to the oil and gas sector. To succeed with Hywind, we need to collaborate closely with suppliers and customers to reduce costs and ensure further deployment.
Key markets for Equinor's Hywind are in Europe, Japan and West Coast US. Estimates show that the technical potential for floating wind power is 6959 GW for Europe, USA and Japan combined. Of high potential markets, we believe Japan can have 3,5 GW installed by 2030, followed by 2,9 GW in France, 2 GW in the US and finally 1,9 in Ireland/UK.
The water depths of the North Sea are ideal for floating wind, and estimates show that over half of the North Sea is suitable for deploying floating wind power. Energy produced from turbines in deep waters could meet the EU’s electricity consumption four times over, according to estimates from the European Wind Association.
Outside Europe, most of the largest potential markets for wind power, such as United States and Japan, have few sites available for bottom-fixed wind turbines, since waters are too deep. Here, floating installations could be a game changer, and the key to meeting renewables ambitions. For example, California has set a target of 50% renewable energy, while in Japan, the shift away from nuclear power will drive the need for new and reliable energy supplies.
According to Bloomberg, the deals already signed in the spring of 2017 will provide approximately 237 megawatts of capacity from floating offshore wind worldwide by 2020, and the first of these to come into production is Equinor’s Hywind Scotland pilot park, in production from the autumn of 2017