Floating offshore wind facilities are maturing and have significantly cut costs in the last few years. The technology enables Europe and a number of other countries to use the offshore wind potential for achieving their green transition goals. Research and innovations remain to be of key importance for the future competitiveness of floating offshore wind. A power capacity of as much as 150GW could be achieved in Europe to the year 2050, meaning that one third of all offshore wind plants could float – according to WindEurope.
Floating wind turbines can produce electricity further offshore and in deeper waters than traditional turbines with a fixed bottom which presently make all the installations in Europe. If we take as an example the the Mediterranean and Black seas, floating wind plants are favourable technologies that will enable benefits for an increasing number of countries. To the year 2050, 150 GW of floating wind is expected and in order for that to happen, costs must continue their downward trend. WindEurope assesses that they could be cut to 40-60€/MWh if governments introduce adequate policies.
First, Europe must continue with the development of floating projects. Today, Europe is the host of the only two floating wind mills in the world: The Hywind Scotland project with a capacity of 30 MW in Great Britain and the Windfloat Atlantic project with 24 MW in Portugal. Seven EU countries intend to install floating offshore wind plants in the next decade (France, Great Britain, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Norway, Sweden). Greece, Bulgaria and Romania are also considering it now. WindEurope expects as much as 7GW overall installed floating wind power in Europe to the year 2030.
Second, technological innovations have to deal with key challenges in designing floating wind aggregates. This relates, for example, to anchoring technologies which help stabilize floating turbines and limit their movement during extreme weather conditions with forceful waves. Here is where the Corewind project financed by the EU comes in with its goal to cut costs and enhance the performance of floating wind technologies. The project implemented virtual stimulations on two different locations in order to explore the potential of decreasing costs through technological innovations. This project will support the floating coastal wind in an attempt to contribute to the European goals of decarbonisation to 2050 and help Europe in maintaining technological leadership.