A report predicts floating offshore wind developments could add 17,000 jobs and generate £33.6 billion of gross value added to the UK by 2050 in developments that could be replicated across Europe and further afield.
The study by Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) for the Crown Estate Scotland, which takes responsibility for coastal waters, outlined the potentially huge economic benefits of the renewable industry.
Policy support was essential to provide the private sector with the confidence to invest, the report added.
It argued that this should include ring-fenced funding for floating wind in future Contracts for Difference auctions for at least 100 megawatts (MW) of pre-commercial projects by 2025 at a cost of £668 million and 800MW of commercial-scale by at least 2027 at a cost of £1.2 billion.
The Floating Offshore Wind conference is being held this week in Aberdeen (pictured).
In Scotland has two operational projects, while elsewhere there is interest in future floating wind projects, in particular in Cornwall.
The UK is ahead of the technology in floating wind power with projects such as Equinor and Masdar’s 30MW Hywind Scotland wind farm, north of Aberdeen.
The report said the global potential for floating wind power was significantly larger than that for fixed offshore wind projects as deep water is more common than shallow coastal shelves.
Scotland’s degree of fiscal autonomy from the over-centralised government in London gives it the freedom to pursue innovative energy projects.
Sian Wilson, development manager at Crown Estate Scotland, said: “At a time when the need to tackle climate change has never been greater or starker, and policy support for innovation, industrialisation and regeneration of high-quality jobs is increasing, the floating wind opportunity ticks all the boxes. Thousands of UK jobs, global exports and clean and secure energy generation are all up for grabs – if the right government support is in place.”
ORE technology chief Gavin Smart said: “Offshore wind will play a significant role in the UK in maximising the economic and industrial benefits of renewable energy generation. However, to reach anything like its full potential will require a significant contribution from floating wind.
“A key part of this study has been industry engagement in formulating and testing assumptions. This has highlighted the strengths of the UK supply chain to serve the domestic and export markets, leveraging heavily from a proven track record in offshore wind and oil and gas.
“With an increasing focus on carbon emissions reductions globally, and the suitability of floating wind technologies to a wide range of water depths and seabed conditions, the UK is well-placed to capitalise on the export opportunities in this growing global market.”
The North Sea city of Aberdeen. Picture credit: Wikimedia