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Few European Ports Can Support Floating Offshore Wind Projects

Credit: Carbon Trust
Credit: Carbon Trust

By MarEx 2018-09-27 19:34:27

Few European ports have the infrastructure to support floating offshore wind development, according to research undertaken as part of the Floating Wind Joint Industry Project.

Only a few ports in Scotland, Norway and Spain, out of the 96 examined, were found to have the necessary infrastructure, according to the report published on behalf of the Carbon Trust, LOC Renewables, WavEC and Cathie Associates. The infrastructure required includes a large set-down area and a wet storage area for assembled units.

Currently the largest floating offshore wind project has a capacity of 30MW, but organized infrastructure planning will be vital to accommodate bigger projects. LOC Group joint chief executive RV Ahilan said: “As the industry develops the necessary technologies to make floating offshore wind commercially viable, there is an urgent need for investment in port infrastructure to avoid delays in the deployment of large-scale floating offshore wind farms.”

The Floating Wind Joint Industry Project is a collaborative R&D initiative between The Carbon Trust and 12 offshore wind developers: EnBW, ENGIE, Eolfi, E.ON, Equinor, Iberdrola, innogy, Kyuden Mirai Energy, Ørsted, Shell, Vattenfall and Wpd. Supported by the Scottish Government, the JIP aims to investigate the challenges and opportunities of developing commercial-scale floating wind farms. 

An earlier study, published by the Project in May this year, highlighted that, although only about 50MW of floating offshore wind power has been installed globally, large-scale deployment is expected over the next decade. Infrastructure and logistics are expected to be a key factor in making the technology financially competitive. 

Floating wind structures will need to be suitable for serial production methods that can ensure delivery of 50-100 units within a summer season installation campaign. As project sizes grow, with ever larger turbines and foundation structures, the constraints imposed on the port facilities will increase significantly, according to the study. The adequacy of port draft and crane capacity, as well as set-down space and wet storage area, are seen as potential issues for existing European ports. Port availability would be improved if cranes were imported, but the logistics of importing very large crawler cranes would add to costs. Re-purposing jack-up vessels at the quayside could be an alternative option.

The report concludes that floating wind farms near good port infrastructure will be more competitive in the near-term and will be important to prove the cost competitiveness of floating wind technology.