The Scottish government has stumped up £1m ($1.25m) to underwrite a new competition aimed at accelerating the floating wind power sector into commercialisation.

Launched by the Carbon Trust-led Floating Wind Joint Industry Project (JIP), which is backed by 14 leading offshore wind developers, the competition will prioritise mooring systems and operations and maintenance (O&M), seen as key areas in advancing the fast-emerging technology.

“Given that 80% of offshore resource across the world is in deeper water, floating wind will undoubtedly play a key role in renewable generation in the future,” said Scotland’s energy minister Paul Wheelhouse.

“Finding solutions to the key challenges identified as part of the competition will facilitate faster deployment of commercial level floating offshore wind farms, allowing this technology to reach its potential.”

Jan Matthiesen, Carbon Trust’s offshore director, added: “Offshore wind in Europe has delivered cost reduction at a scale that no one anticipated, cementing its role as a truly competitive energy generation technology.

Floating wind is a proven technology and promises to be the next renewable power success story, but to meet the scale of ambition we need to accelerate cost reduction.”

Previous work by the Floating Wind JIP highlighted four main “challenge areas” for the sector:

· technologies to facilitate major component exchange offshore during O&M

· disconnection/re-connection techniques for use when turbine foundations are towed to port

· monitoring and inspection methods for large numbers of mooring lines, power cables and foundation structures

· new methods, materials or technologies to reduce the cost of mooring system installation and maintenance.

The Carbon Trust has estimated that 12GW of floating wind capacity could be built globally by 2030, pulling in over £32bn of capital investment, but many analysts are more bullish, seeing the technology being competitive with conventional offshore wind as early as 2026, with as much as 18.9GW turning around the world by the end of the next decade.

As Recharge reported today, floating wind technology is also in the frame for an ambitious 4GW project in the North Sea that could convert seawater to ‘green’ hydrogen which would be pumped ashore to heat millions of homes.

The Floating Wind JIP partners are: EnBW, ENGIE, Eolfi, E.ON, Equinor, ScottishPower Renewables, innogy, Kyuden Mirai Energy, Ørsted, Shell, SSE, TEPCO, Vattenfall, and Wpd.