Orsted plans to make its first foray into the floating wind sector as part of its bid for the upcoming ScotWind seabed leasing round off Scotland, said CEO Mads Nipper as he confirmed the company’s conversion to a technology it shunned for years.
Asked by financial analysts if Orsted would embrace floating, Nipper said: “We are gearing up. We will also in the upcoming ScotWind have floating as part of that.”
Orsted – the global pacesetter in fixed-bottom offshore wind with 7.6GW installed and positions in Europe, the US and Asia – for years said floating wind was too unproven and costly to add to its portfolio. In 2017 it said “we don’t see ourselves as being attracted in any way to taking an active part in floating foundations”.
But Nipper, who has made more sympathetic noises about floating since he took over as CEO at the start of the year, said on Thursday during a call to discuss financial results: “We still think there is significant potential for bottom fixed.
“[But to pursue global net zero goals] we do believe that we will need several more technologies, including floating offshore.”
Nipper added: “This is something where we will play a role. We are choosing to lean into that and be part of the journey.”
Floating wind is now widely viewed as a key contributor to the next wave of renewables build-out globally, with some analysts predicting it will overhaul fixed-bottom projects in terms of capacity deployed.
Orsted’s arrival in the sector brings it into line with power groups such as Iberdrola, Engie and EDPR, and oil players Shell and Total, which along with sector pioneer Equinor have all embraced floating.
Floating wind markets are on the verge of explosive growth globally, with recent analysis from UK-based low carbon advisory body the Carbon Trust calculating over 70GW of floating wind could be turning by 2040.
Nipper gave no further details of the ScotWind bid or the exact role floating wind would play in it.
The company had previously said it would take part in ScotWind and had secured a 1.8GW grid connection for use if it is successful – but did not specify that floating would play a role.
ScotWind is among the first major offshore wind tenders globally to include seabed suitable for both floating and fixed-bottom developments, and is designed to open the way for 10GW of development off Scotland.
The process was delayed by seabed landlord The Crown Estate Scotland earlier this year for a review following the uproar around ‘option fees’ paid by developers in the parallel Round 4 leasing process run by The Crown Estate for new acreage off England and Wales.