UK body the Carbon Trust has named the five winners in its competition to develop new high voltage dynamic power export cables for floating wind turbines – seen as a key technology pinch-point in the nascent sector’s industrialisation.

Norway’s Aker Solutions, Japan’s Furukawa Electric, Greece’s Hellenic Cables, the UK’s JDR and China’s Zhongtian Technology were chosen to advance their designs through the Scottish government-supported joint industry project (JIP), which is targeting having the technology as “a viable option” for commercial-scale floating wind projects “within the next five-to-ten years”.

Through to March 2020, the winners will complete design and initial testing of dynamic cables ranging from 130kV to 250kV in phase one of the programme, supported by BPP Cables and backed by JIP partners EnBW, Engie, Eolfi, E.ON, Equinor, innogy, Kyuden Mirai Energy, Orsted, ScottishPower Renewables, Shell, Vattenfall and Wpd,

“The lack of dynamic export cables has been identified as a hurdle that needs to be overcome by industry to ensure the commercialisation of floating wind farms, and we are excited to begin work to ensure that this technology is ready in time for commercial floating wind projects,” said Rory Shanahan, offshore wind manager at the Carbon Trust.

“Floating wind is a key technology for areas where water depths and/or seabed conditions are not suitable for bottom-fixed turbine foundations, and the continuing development of this technology opens up new areas and opportunity for offshore wind farms, helping to further decarbonise economies.”

Results from the first phase of the JIP is expected to help “inform subsequent project phases to support the deployment of dynamic export cables across the industry”, Shanahan added.

The world’s first commercial-scale floating wind farm, Equinor’s 30MW Hywind, was brought online in late 2017 off the Scottish coast, and the scout turbine for the 50MW Kincardine array, also off Scotland, was moored last year, but the UK has no other floating wind farms currently in the pipeline.

In March 2018, industry advocacy group the Friends of Floating Offshore Wind urged the UK government to set a target of having 1GW of floating wind online by 2025 and 5GW by 2030.

Latest calculations from wind industry advocacy body WindEurope suggest some 350MW of floating wind capacity will be switched on in Europe by 2021 via a raft of 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. Many analyst forecasts point to a fleet of 15GW or larger by 2030.