Commercial Scale Floating Offshore Wind on the Horizon

Commercial scale floating offshore wind is on the horizon and getting closer to reality.

That was the clear theme of the sixth annual Floating Offshore Wind Turbines (FOWT) conference this week in Montpelier, France. During the opening session, government representatives from France, the UK, Japan and the US—represented by BOEM’s Emily Lindow, pictured—discussed their collective contributions to achieving the first gigawatt of installed floating offshore wind capacity worldwide.

Given the location of the conference, France was first to outline its revised position. It set price indications of $135 USD / MWh by 2021 for a 250 MW floating offshore wind farm located off the coast of Brittany, followed by $123 / MWh for the same size project in the Mediterranean one year later. Note these price estimates excluded the costs of initial environmental impact studies, site evaluation, substation, export cable and grid connection, all of which are covered by the State.

An industry panel offered two main messages. First, governments should formally plan to increase the commitment for larger levels of floating offshore wind, including the acceptance of large sized floating offshore wind farms. Second, the UK should develop a separate ‘contract for differences’ support mechanism specifically for floating offshore wind.

Other conference sessions offered insights into: financing and insurance; ports and infrastructure, and new markets. As floating technology matures, it holds enormous potential to unlock vast areas of deep ocean for offshore wind.

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