From where I stand, the signs have long been in the wind. An ever-busier newsfeed of plans for utility-scale floating wind developments off Asia, Europe and the US; next-generation technologies moving to join pioneering floating wind prototypes already in field-testing; the rapid expansion of European wind advocacy body WindEurope’s floating wind task force into a fully-fledged working group; the year-on-year growth of the FOWT conference – which has gone from being a small Franco-centric floating wind gathering only a few years ago into an international 1,000-plus delegate conference attending by some of the biggest names in the global energy, financial and legal sectors ... floating wind is on the brink of an historic boom.
But the most telling signs yet came when some of the world’s largest developers and utilities – which until now looked at floating wind from afar, sometimes even with disdain – finally decided to mobilise the necessary resources to assess technologies and market-potential with the clear intention to get ready for the upcoming French, Scottish and Japanese competitive auctions.
Suddenly the efforts and initiatives from floating wind technology providers such as Equinor, Principle Power and Ideol, from developers such a Marubeni and EDPR, from organisations such as Japan’s NEDO, France’s ADEME, and the US’ NREL, are no longer being seen as a questionable use of taxpayers’ or shareholders’ money. Floating wind power is finally getting the well-deserved recognition so few dared to acknowledge only a short time ago.
This doesn’t mean that the work has been done, quite on the contrary. The lessons learned from a few full-scale floating wind demonstrators and pilot projects dotted around this planet’s oceans need now to benefit all parties and contribute to an acceleration of commercial-scale arrays wherever they may be in the world.
If the floating wind industry is to blossom at the pace it deserves – and many in the market now expect – we have to move beyond what has so far been a somewhat isolationist and regionalised approach and make sure that all countries and all continents are progressing at the same speed, capitalising on one another’s experience.
There is no reason for each country or region to waste time and energy – and money –developing its own test sites, demonstrators, technologies or pilot projects. Unlike bottom-fixed wind, which started and grew within a very limited geographical perimeter, floating wind has the opportunity to expand as one global industry across the globe, making sure that the world-leading research and development – and so ultimately the lowest levellised cost of energy - can be achieved from the get-go, independent of location, developing local job-creating industries in the process.
Enabling such a cost-competitive and international development ethos is what motivated the creation of World Forum Offshore Wind’s Floating Wind Offshore Committee (FOWC) I have the honour of co-chairing with Clément Weber from investment house Green Giraffe to promote a truly global acceleration of commercial-scale floating wind deployments on several continents and having the international wind industry take fullest advantage of the best of science and the lessons learned worldwide.
The mission of the FOWC is nothing less than matching – if not outclassing – the cost-reductions we have seen in conventional offshore wind in recent years, and building out to reach an installed capacity in the hundreds of gigawatts.
The FOWC will not only bring together international offshore wind industry leaders but will also count on globally recognised floating wind specialists – large and small – representing every link in the offshore wind value chain.
As an industry-driven initiative, the FOWC has the following principal aims:
- Education, advocacy and policymaking: supporting the initiatives of its members in their efforts to grow their local market through education of both private and public stakeholders; defining, formulate and promote policy and regulatory evolutions in favour of floating wind; and consolidating and disseminating the best of science, the lessons learned and the best practices observed worldwide
- Cost-reduction and commercial-scale deployment: identiyfing and promoting global standardisation; and identifying and addressing the principal technical, industrial and financial obstacles that could hamper the acceleration of commercial-scale deployments
- Health and safety: developing and maintaining the highest standards for the industry
- Marine spatial planning: developing a constructive engagement with environmental stakeholders and maritime sectors including fisheries and shipping.
Join us in lifting the sails of floating wind!
· Bruno Geschier, chief sales and marketing officer of French floating wind technology developer Ideol, spearheaded the WindEurope’s Floating Wind Working Group, as well as founding the FOWT conference, the world’s largest sector event, on which he continues to serve as chairman of the scientific and technical committee