Many of the leading figures in the global floating wind industry joined a VIP cruise to hear Finn Gunnar Nielsen named Recharge Floating Wind Power Player of the Year – the debut winner of the world’s first award dedicated to the fast-emerging sector.

Nielsen, formerly with the R&D team at Norwegian oil & gas group Statoil, was announced as the winner by Recharge Editor-in-Chief Darius Snieckus during the cruise off Marseille, held in conjunction with award sponsor and floating wind pioneer Ideol.

The ceremony was held on the eve of FOWT 2018, the largest industry event yet for the sector, which was held last week in the French city.

The award was collected on Nielsen's behalf by Hywind project director at Statoil Sebastian Bringsvaerd.

Nielsen, now professor at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Bergen, Norway, in 2002 started up a small group working on the question of how wind turbines could be located at deep water sites, resulting in the first design of the Hywind floating wind turbine.

In 2009, this work reached fruition with installation of the world’s first full scale multi-megawatt floating wind turbine, the Hywind Demo, a design which has since led to the development of the world’s first floating wind array by Statoil, the 30MW in Hywind Scotland wind farm in the UK North Sea, switched on in October 2017.

Nielsen said he was honoured to receive the award, adding that the progress of Hywind was the result of the efforts of many “and a continuous will over many years to succeed”.

Snieckus said Nielsen – and fellow nominees Johan Sandberg of DNV GL and Takeshi Ishihara of the University of Tokyo – were among the “visionaries that dared to see floating wind not as an engineering experiment, but rather as a future means of generating what the authors of the recent Carnegie Institution for Science study into deep-ocean wind called “civilisation-scale energy production”.