last week key industry players met in Aberdeen at a conference organised by Renewable UK and Scottish Renewables to discuss the development of the floating wind sector. They came from the oil and gas sector, the renewables industry, the marine supply chain and government. The development and success of the offshore wind industry has thus far been built around fixed offshore turbines but as that technology has matured increasing attention is being given to the role that floating wind will play in achieving the UK and Scotland's Net Zero ambitions, in enabling offshore wind generation in deeper waters and in different coastal areas and in producing jobs, technology and exports.
The collective resolve appears to be there and is helped by the recognition that the UK oil and gas industry can capitalise on the skills it has developed over the decades on offshore platforms and similar.
Our existing fixed turbine offshore industry is having to carefully balance pressure on available sites and deployment alongside the protection of habitats and the legislation that applies to this. Surely proven deployable floating wind could alleviate that pressure.
Floating wind demonstrations are online and more are planned which some significant projects coming forward but if the UK is to take a lead role and capitalise in the coming decades it needs to stimulate these early projects. This is undoubtedly going to add to the debate on the structure of the Contracts for Difference mechanism and the auctions under it. Should we now have a refocused pot of ringfenced CfD money available for innovative low carbon technologies of which floating wind is one? We should not forget that when the CfD was originally set up this was the purpose of the division between the "Less Established"Pot and (the now defunct)"Established" Pot. Adapting the CfD of course is not the only way in which new industry can be incentivised but is one of the more obvious methods.
The floating offshore wind sector in the UK can deliver almost £34bn in economic benefits by 2050, according to a new report by RenewableUK and Scottish Renewables. The report – 'Floating Wind: The UK Industry Ambition' – says that the technology is necessary for the UK to reach its legally-binding net zero carbon emissions target by 2050 and to fulfil Scotland’s commitment to achieve this by 2045. The industry estimates that floating wind can support 17,000 UK jobs by 2050, particularly in coastal communities in England, Scotland and Wales. Economic benefits represent a return of £15 for each £1 invested in early stage support, the report said.