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UK should target 5GW of floating wind by 2030: FOFOW

Industry group calls for discussions with Westminster 'on the basis of socio-economic impact calculations'

Industry advocacy group the Friends of Floating Offshore Wind (FOFOW) has urged the UK government to set a target of having 1GW of floating wind online by 2025 and 5GW by 2030.

FOFOW, which is made up of 19 developers, technology designers and suppliers, called for discussions with Westminster on a ‘sector deal’ to help support pilot projects and arrays “on the basis of socio-economic impact calculations”.

“Floating wind is on the pathway to become commercially competitive with other forms of electricity generation and has the potential to further reduce the generation cost of offshore wind, particularly in deep water and challenging seabed sites,” said FOFOW in a statement.

“This creates a new market with the associated supply chain, employment and export opportunities from which first movers and those with experience in related fields such as offshore oil and gas or maritime will benefit most.”

FOFOW calculations of the potential local gross value added (GVA) “underpin that the GVA returns justify the investment in supporting pilot and particularly pre-commercial arrays, where the GVA exceeds the cost of support.

“The support of these projects would also offer local employment and the development of local supply chains for export markets, especially in deprived areas or where the transition and diversification from oil & gas is needed the most.”

‘Floating wind is the future – let's seize the opportunities'

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Writing exclusively in Recharge last week, FOFOW chairman Chris McConville said: “Not all new offshore wind capacity will find shallow waters and suitable seabed sites, as seen in developments to date, so a large part of this demand will be for floating offshore wind.

“This growth will benefit the economies of scale for both bottom-fixed and floating solutions.

“We believe the achievements made by the floating offshore wind industry in recent months must be built upon to realise commercialisation and provide an option for the growth of offshore wind in the long-term.”

McConville said the 2025 and 2030 goals set out by FOFOW were “realistic stretch targets”.

The UK government-industry body the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, in a recent project, forecast that floating wind farms would be “common” off Britain by 2030 as part of a “backbone” supply of offshore wind energy from around the British Isles that could meet over 15% of demand.

“Our position paper makes a compelling case for supporting floating offshore wind with a route to market in the UK,” said McConville. “The technology ticks all the boxes of the UK’s Industrial Strategy and aligns with the vision for a transformed economy.

“Not making use of this opportunity would mean leaving the benefits of this promising industry to other nations, a mistake we can’t afford to make again.”

Latest calculations from WindEurope point to 350MW of floating wind capacity being switched on in Europe by 2021 via 10 projects off the UK, France, Portugal and Norway.

From a single industrial-scale prototype in 2009, floating wind has progressed at a clip toward commercialisation. A year ago, analysts were forecasting a global market of around 3.5GW by 2030; now the consensus is 5-6GW, with UK low-carbon business development body Carbon Trust expecting anywhere between 3GW and 12GW.

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