On 24 April WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson chaired the first plenary session at FOWT 2019, the world’s largest floating offshore wind event.
The event comes at a time when Europe’s ambition for floating offshore wind is nowhere near where it needs to be. Dickson noted that, while Europe remains the global leader in fixed-bottom offshore wind – with 18.5 GW cumulative capacity today – it is off track in its deployment of offshore wind.
Floating offshore wind is the result of European R&D, but Europe now finds itself in a catch-up position in floating deployment. Asia has recently taken the initiative in developing the first commercial scale projects in floating offshore wind. Earlier this year, Korea signed a Memorandum of Understanding with 4 consortia to develop a floating park of 1 GW (200 MW each developer). Separately, the Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) and Equinor have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly explore the opportunities to develop commercial floating offshore wind in South Korea.
If Europe wants to be the global leader in renewables, this has got to change. And there is no reason why it shouldn’t. Floating has moved beyond R&D and is ready for large-scale deployment. It can benefit from the cost reduction learning curve of bottom-fixed offshore, pending scalability.
Scale should be driven by clear floating volume commitments and targets at national level in the final 2030 National Climate and Energy Plans (NECPs). This will provide visibility to the supply chain and ports and will ensure Europe keeps its leading position in offshore wind in the face of international competition.
It is appropriate that FOWT 2019 is taking place in Montpellier, France – France is only country to include floating wind in its draft National Energy & Climate Plan. “I stress the word ‘draft’,” Dickson said, “because there are still 8 months to put floating offshore in other countries’ NECPs.” Other EU Member States should take note. Floating offshore wind volumes will provide long-term visibility and will benefit ports and local businesses.
So far, France is the only country to put any volumes for floating offshore wind tenders in its NECP. You can see our full analysis of the draft National Energy & Climate Plans here.