floating wind turbines

Global floating offshore wind pipeline doubles in 2022

Image credit: Ole Jørgen Bratland - Equinor

The total global pipeline of floating offshore wind projects has reached 185GW, according to a new report from RenewableUK.

Amid a looming energy crisis, the floating offshore wind industry continues to grow, with the latest analysis showing that the global pipeline for the sector has more than doubled in the past 12 months from 91GW to 185GW.

The report, published by RenewableUK, tracks all offshore floating wind farm projects at all stages of development from early planning through to fully operational. 

According to the analysis, the UK continues to lead the offshore wind market, with over 33GW of projects in the pipeline, and a handful of demonstration projects already operational.

Overall, the UK's pipeline has increased from 23GW a year ago to over 33GW, and from 29 projects to 51, which are being developed in the North Sea (Scottish and English waters), the Celtic Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.

The report acknowledges that the vast majority of the global pipeline remains at an early stage. At the moment, only 121MW of the global 185GW pipeline has been fully commissioned across nine projects in seven countries.

Meanwhile, 96MW is under construction, 288MW is consented or in the pre-construction phase, 31GW is in planning or has a lease agreement and 153GW is in early development or is in the leasing process.  

Floating offshore wind total portfolio by country

Floating offshore wind total portfolio by country/ RenewableUK

Image credit: RenewableUK

Outside Europe, leasing areas off the west coast of the USA, project proposals off the South-East coast of Australia, and South Korea would make up the majority of the rest of the capacity.

“The growth of floating offshore wind is surging ahead at a phenomenal rate year on year around the world. We’re proud that the UK is a global leader in this innovative technology with nearly a fifth of the total pipeline – significantly greater than any other country," said RenewableUK’s CEO Dan McGrail. 

“In the years ahead, as we build projects further out to sea where wind speeds are even stronger, floating wind will play a central role in proving cheap, clean electricity for British homes as well as boosting our energy security.

“It also offers a significant opportunity to build up a whole new industry in the UK, with a world-class supply chain which will enable us to export our expertise and state-of-the-art technology worldwide”.

The report states that by the end of 2030, floating wind capacity could reach 11GW in the UK, 31GW in Europe and 41GW globally.

It also notes that demand for floating foundations is expected to ramp up fast, with the potential for nearly 1,000 floating foundations to be installed in UK waters by the end of 2030. Globally 3,200 floating foundations could be installed by the end of the decade.

However, this rate might not be enough. Last month, a study from Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) stressed that the UK government’s renewable energy targets would only be achieved with “significant improvements” in wind turbine installation rates. 

The research found that almost half of the offshore wind projects needed to reach the target are only at the concept stage, despite the deadline for the government’s targets being less than eight years away.

In July, Parliament debated a bill to fast-track offshore wind projects in the House of Lords, against a backdrop of record-breaking temperatures and spiralling energy bills fuelling a cost-of-living crisis. Earlier this year, the government announced a £31m fund to help drive further deployment of floating offshore wind projects, and secured 11 gigawatts of winning bids for various renewable technologies at a record-low price.

The energy obtained from these renewable sources amounts to 14 per cent of the UK’s total current electricity capacity, according to officials. 

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