The UK is racing ahead as floating offshore wind capacity doubles

A floating offshore wind farm is being installed in Scotland. Photo credit: Statkraft.

By Anders Lorenzen

Analysis by RenewableUK, a trade body representing the renewable energy industry in the UK, has found that in the past 12 months the global capacity of floating offshore wind projects has doubled from 91 gigawatts (GW) a year ago to 185 GW today, with the number of projects increasing from 130 to 230. This includes projects that are operational, under construction, approved, in the planning stage or in their early stage of development.

The research also shows that the capacity of the UK itself is 33.3 GW – which is up from 23 GW a year ago, and up from 29 to 51 projects in full. The UK is going full throttle on the fast-emerging floating offshore wind technology with projects lined up on both sides of the British Isles; the North Sea, the Celtic Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.

Globally, only a fraction of the 185 GW potential is guaranteed as 121 megawatts (MW) is fully commissioned across nine projects in seven countries, another 96 MW is under construction, 288 MW has consented or is in the pre-construction phase, 31 GW is in planning or has a lease agreement, and the majority is in the early development stage or is in the process of leasing.

As the UK dominates the world in floating offshore capacity, Scotland dominates the UK

The analysis found that, as with offshore wind, Europe has taken the overall lead in the technology as 58% or 107 GW is being developed in Europe with a huge slice of  18% or 33.3 GW in the UK with the majority of this at 29 GW is in Scottish waters.  

Looking outside of Europe the majority of floating offshore capacity are in the early stages of planning. The key areas are the west coast of the US, the southeast coast of Australia and South Korea representing the majority of the remaining capacity.

The analysis predicts that by the end of 2030, floating wind capacity could reach 11 GW in the UK, 21 GW in Europe and 41 GW globally. It also notes that in line with this flurry of the new floating offshore wind capacity the demand for the foundations to support them is expected to ramp up fast with the potential for nearly 1,000 floating foundations to be installed in UK waters by the end of 2030. Globally 3,200 foundations could be installed by the end of the decade. 

Commenting on the research, the CEO of RenewableUK Dan McGrail said:  “The growth of floating offshore wind is surging ahead at a phenomenal rate year on year around the world. We’re proud that the UK is a global leader in this innovative technology with nearly a fifth of the total pipeline – significantly greater than any other country. It also offers a significant opportunity to build up a whole new industry in the UK, with a world-class supply chain which will enable us to export our expertise and state-of-the-art technology worldwide”.

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