UK floating offshore wind could reach “subsidy-free” levels by the early 2030s, according to a study completed by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence (FOW CoE).
The study suggests that large floating offshore wind projects could secure Contracts for Difference (CfD) strike prices below current wholesale electricity price forecasts as early as 2029, depending on the deployment scenario pursued by the UK.
It also highlights the role floating offshore wind will play in the UK’s journey to net zero and towards delivering 100GW of offshore wind by 2050, in line with the recent Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget.
The study summarises work undertaken as part of the FOW CoE’s Cost Reduction Pathways project, which used mapping software to develop 75GW, 100GW and 150GW offshore wind deployment scenarios to 2050.
The research identified areas off the East and North East of Scotland, within the Celtic Sea and off the North East of England, as areas of high potential for short and medium term floating offshore wind deployment.
The team developed the Cost Reduction Pathways Model, highlighting the critical role of both deployment rates and innovation in floating offshore wind cost reduction.
In the short term and medium term, the primary driver of UK floating offshore wind cost reduction is scale of UK deployment, augmented by innovation.
Over the longer term, the primary driver is innovation, augmented by UK and international deployment rates.
Significant early deployment of floating offshore wind is vital to the UK securing high levels of gross value added, and to ensuring the UK establishes a credible and cost-effective route to delivering 100GW of offshore wind by 2050.
The study recommended that:
- The UK’s floating offshore wind industry should be supported to grow rapidly, establishing a clear long-term vision for the growth of the industry.
- Early support for technology innovation is needed to drive long-term cost reduction and maximise UK content in floating wind projects.
- An offshore leasing round should be established in the next two years to facilitate access to the most cost-effective deployment areas, specifically the Celtic Sea and North East England.
Chris Hill, operational performance director at the ORE Catapult and FOW CoE executive governance board co-chair, said: “It is vital the UK takes a strategic approach to supporting the rapidly developing industry UK floating wind industry to ensure the potential benefits are realised.”
RenewableUK’s head of policy and regulation Rebecca Williams added: “As this report shows, floating wind can repeat the success of fixed-bottom offshore wind by achieving spectacular cost reductions over the course of this decade, to a point where we can generate electricity below the wholesale price.
“Floating wind has a key role to play in hitting the UK’s net zero emissions target – we can’t get there without it.
“As long as industry and government work closely together to support the rapid expansion of floating wind, we can maintain our global lead in this innovative technology and export it worldwide, securing jobs and investment for UK companies,” she added.
ORE Catapult was established in 2013 by the UK Government and is part of a network of catapults set up by Innovate UK in high growth industries.
It is the UK’s flagship technology innovation and research centre for offshore wind, wave and tidal energy and helps to reduce the cost of offshore renewable energy, supporting the growth of the industry and creating UK benefit.
Established by ORE Catapult, the FOW CoE is an initiative to reduce the cost of energy from floating wind.
The centre will accelerate the build-out of floating farms, create opportunities for the UK supply chain and drive innovations in manufacturing, installation and operations.