After emerging as one of the biggest winners from the ScotWind seabed leasing round, Shell’s floating wind chief Vincent Fromont says companies that were rivals in bidding will need to rapidly switch to cooperative mode if the sector is to “deliver on the promises” of what was widely hailed as its breakthrough moment.

While floating wind was always expected to do well in ScotWind, the fact it secured 15GW of the 25GW potential to be built in the lease areas awarded took many by surprise, and immediately sparked questions over whether the infrastructure and supply chain can ramp up to match the scale of Scotland’s ambition to have one of the world’s largest floating build-out underway later in the decade.

“That [the supply chain] is a concern for the whole industry. Scotland has a high expectation of local content and participation,” Fromont told Recharge.

“Ports, logistics, local fabrication, O&M – it’s a huge amount of work. We need to share locations, open new locations.

“The only way I can see for all of us to be successful in Scotland is to work together in terms of collaboration.”

Fromont believes the early signs are good, with a “willingness to do things together, a willingness to deliver with the promises”, of ScotWind.

Shell’s own successful bid is itself built on co-operation as a joint effort with ScottishPower, the local utility unit of global green power giant Iberdrola, that will see the two aim to build 5GW of floating wind across two projects.

Shell and Iberdrola have since the tender announced plans to invest £50m ($65.5m) to spur a supply chain to serve the floating wind farms, but Fromont says the oil and power groups have not yet settled on a specific floating technology.

Fromont says access to the grid could be an additional challenge for some of the ScotWind winners, although “we have a small advantage, our partner already applied for a grid connection – we are already in the queue”.

The Shell executive agrees that ScotWind will go down as a big moment for floating wind, not least because of the scale of the tender for a sector looking to break out from small demonstrators to the economies of scale that size can bring.

“What we need is volume – and today [ScotWind] is the start of the volume.”

ScotWind is just one part of a fast-growing portfolio of Shell floating wind interests that already also spans France, South Korea and Ireland, with ambitions in markets such as Norway and Japan, with a “technology-neutral” approach that has seen it buy French pioneer Eolfi, work with Hexicon in South Korea and back the TetraSpar concept devised by industry pioneer Henrik Stiesdal.

Fromont described TetraSpar as the most “industrialised concept that has been put at sea” and said it was showing “very good” performance levels in trials off Norway, despite some challenging conditions early in 2022. “We had some bad storms and no impact, no interruptions.”