Blue Gem Wind, the joint venture between French oil giant Total and Irish early-stage developer Simply Blue Energy, has begun detailed survey work on its flagship Erebus floating wind power project site in the Celtic Sea off Wales.

Being carried out from the Geoxyz vessel, the campaign, which follows first seabed studies last summer some 45km off the Pembrokeshire coast, will add to wind data collected via a onshore met mast.

“It is positive to be offshore once again to follow-up on our surveys which began in August 2020,” said Blue Gem deputy technical manager Myriam Samba.

“We are continuing to build a detailed picture of the what the seabed is like for our Erebus project, which will enable us to build the most efficient floating wind farm we can, with the least environmental impact.”

Erebus project managing director Mike Scott said: “While local residents are becoming familiar with our onshore met mast, it is offshore where most of our activity will continue to happen and we look forward to evaluating the results of this and future survey work out in the Celtic Sea”.

UK seabed landlord The Crown Estate awarded Blue Gem the rights to develop the 96MW demonstration project last year, located in water depths of 70 metres, with an eye to bringing the array into into operation in 2025-26. The current offshore surveys are due to last until mid-June.

The developer has also handed in an environmental scoping report for its nearby 300MW Valorous floating wind project.

Simply Blue has emerged as a key early stage developer in European floating wind play, last month sealing a deal with Shell through the which the oil supermajor is taking a majority stake in the multibillion-dollar Emerald floating wind megaproject it had be advancing to build near the decommissioned Kinsale gas fields in the Celtic Sea, which has been estimated to have a harnessable wind resource of some 50GW.

Last month, the UK Crown Estate announced plans to offer seabed leasing for commercial-scale floating wind in the Celtic Sea via individual projects of around 300MW in response to what it called “strong interest” from a “capable and motivated pool of potential market participants”.

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 – a near-1,000-fold expansion of the current global fleet – as international supply chains take shape to support development of commercial-scale projects around the world.

DNV, meanwhile, in its latest Energy Transition Outlook, forecast some 260GW of floating wind turning worldwide by 2050, but this expansion hinges on the sector reducing LCOE to €40-60/MWh ($50-75/MWh) from levels today that are three times as high.