Three biggest technical challenges for floating offshore wind sector - International Burch University
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Three biggest technical challenges for floating offshore wind sector

Elsams havmøllepark ved Horns Rev. 80 møller med en samlet effekt på 160 MW. Dækker knap 2 % af det samlede danske elforbrug. Billedet kan benyttes vederlagsfrit i forbindelse med omtale af Elsam hav-møllepark ved Horns Rev med kildeangivelse. Mere info: Foto: Bent Sørensen, Medvind Elsam's offshore wind farm at Horns Rev. 80 turbines with a total capacity of 160 MW placed 14-20 kilometers out in the North Sea. Cowers allmost 2 % of the danish yearly power consumption. This picture may be used free of charge in connection with the covering of Elsam's offshore project at Horns Rev, stating Photo: Elsam. More info: Photo: Bent Sørensen, Medvind

The three biggest technical challenges for the floating offshore wind sector have been revealed in a new report.

Challenges identified are heavy lift maintenance, tow-to-port logistics and mooring in challenging environments.

The report – Floating Wind Joint Industry Project – Phase III summary – analyses the technical opportunities and challenges for the sector as it moves towards commercial scale farms.

It is the result of the latest work undertaken by the Floating Wind Joint Industry Project (JIP),the world-leading collaborative floating wind research and development programme managed by the Carbon Trust.

While many countries are considering floating offshore wind as an option, the industry has challenges that need to be addressed in order to maximise the efficiency of commercial-scale floating offshore wind farms.

These include:

  • Heavy lift maintenance: commercial floating offshore wind farms are likely to be installed in deeper waters, where conventional jack-up vessels will not be a viable option. On top of this, the relative motion of the turbine versus a floating maintenance vessel is a key risk that needs to be mitigated.
  • Tow-to-port: better solutionsto safely disconnect and store all the connections when bringing the turbine back to port were researched, providing recommendations depending on the turbine platform design and the distance to port.
  • Mooring in challenging environments: both very deep and very shallow waters come with inherent challenges for anchoring floating offshore wind platforms, from selecting the most cost-efficient mooring system, to mitigating the strong dynamic motions of waves experienced in shallower waters.

The report outlines these challenges and summarises the solutions that have emerged as part of the projects delivered within Phase-III and a technological competition managed by the Carbon Trust and the Floating Wind JIP.

According to the report, despite Covid-19 related delays the global floating offshore wind industry is expected to grow from 74MW at the time of this release to 126MW by the end of 2021 with the completion of the largest floating offshore wind farm to-date at Kincardine, Scotland.

The Carbon Trust Floating Offshore Wind programme manager Sam Strivens emphasised the potential of floating offshore wind, highlighting that a series of demonstration projects have helped prove its “technical feasibility”.

“Several national governments have announced dedicated leasing and support for pre- and early commercial floating offshore wind deployment. The main challenge for the industry now is a commercial one,” he said.

“As we have seen in bottom-fixed offshore wind, our industry-led, collaborative R&D programmes have delivered significant cost reductions and de-risked technologies that accelerated commercialisation. Since 2016, the Floating Wind JIP has tackled the critical needs of the sector and as we welcome two new partners, we are confident that collectively we can deliver the same impact for floating offshore wind.”

The findings come at a time that the floating offshore wind sector is ready to scale up, and industry participation in the Floating Wind JIP is also increasing as bp and Tohoku Electric Power have recently joined alongside the 15 existing members: EDF Renouvelables, EnBW, Equinor, Kyuden Mirai Energy, Ocean Winds, Ørsted, Parkwind, RWE, ScottishPower Renewables, Shell, SSE Renewables, TEPCO, TotalEnergies, Vattenfall, and Wpd.


Department of Civil Engineering