Floating wind is now such a fast-moving, compelling, international story that it almost deserves its own streaming TV series.
This week alone, floating was busy making waves in Japan, where oil refiner Eneos linked with sector pioneer BW Ideol to plan a commercial-scale project, and Spain, where the government set out draft plans for a first-ever target to build up to 3GW of floating capacity in the deep waters off its shores.
The Spanish are bullish over their track record as a floating wind R&D “powerhouse”, but the running so far has been made elsewhere in terms of actual construction of projects and leasing for development.
In Scotland, for example, where offshore wind's biggest hitters continue to roll up ahead of the deadline for the ScotWind tender later in July, among the first in the world to offer leasing for both fixed-foundation and floating development. They don’t come much bigger than Orsted, which this week teamed up with floating specialist BlueFloat Energy and onshore developer Falck Renewables for its first tilt at a non-fixed tender.
That wasn’t the week’s only Scottish alliance. Ocean Winds and Aker Offshore Wind set the seal on a partnership of their own to build floating wind projects off Scotland, starting with the ScotWind round.
The proliferation of floating project plans is also spurring research into how thousands of turbines can be deployed to best effect. This week Recharge reported how work led by DNV is underway to study how wake steering can be used to best effect on deepwater projects.
Did we say floating wind deserved a TV spot? Now it has one – the first edition of Power Up Your Day on WindEurope’s new Windflix video platform is devoted to floating, with Recharge Editor-in-Chief Darius Snieckus and Online Editor Andrew Lee discussing developments in the sector.
As the energy transition gathers pace and more nations set net zero targets and other ambitious climate goals, governments are increasingly keen to show their populations that renewables are good for economies as well as the planet.
The relentless emphasis of the Biden administration on “good paying jobs” is a notable example, with prospects of wind turbine plants being built by major OEMs an early sign that the sector is poised to deliver paychecks as well as clean power to Americans in the near future.
The UK is at least 10 years further down the offshore wind road than the US, but issues of industrial transformation, jobs and local content are still very much at the top of the agenda. The British government this week put its hand in its pocket for funding to smooth major investments in what is expected to be the world’s largest monopile fabrication facility, and a separate site making transition pieces, both in northeast England, for the coming North Sea wind power build-out.
The factories – in one of the key political target areas for the ruling Conservative Party – are part of a juggling act seeking to keep the balls of local content (and jobs), supply chain cost reduction and compliance with trade agreements in the air at the same time.
Similar competing pressures are at play in Taiwan, Asia’s offshore wind pacesetter outside China, where a local development pioneer and a trio of supply chain partners this week formed a ‘Taiwan team’ to give the island a domestic offshore wind champion in a market so far dominated by overseas giants.
A glimpse of the scale of the global prize came in a study by accountants EY of ‘shovel ready’ renewables projects that are estimated to have potential to unleash 10 million jobs and $2trn of investments.
Green hydrogen had its usual busy week, as Recharge reported the latest in the debate raging over whether renewable H2 can become cost-competitive in time to make an impact on the energy transition, and carried an exclusive interview with the executives behind the world’s first hydrogen-focused investment fund.
We also revealed plans for gigascale green hydrogen linked to offshore wind in Ireland, and the launch of a coalition to develop the clean-hydrogen value chain in the Caucasus region and wider Central Asia.
The US has so far not seen quite the level of hydrogen action underway in Europe, but that’s changing fast, and Recharge reported how global development giant Iberdrola has set out a range of options for large-scale green H2 projects spanning both coasts and Texas.
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