Number of global floating offshore wind projects in pipeline soars

19 October 2022 by Lewis Murray
blog author

The total amount of floating offshore wind projects across the globe has more than doubled in capacity in the past year, RenewableUK has revealed in a new report.

The trade association of wind power, wave power and tidal power industries in the UK released the EnergyPulse Insights study this week, which has shown the total pipeline has increased from 91GW a year ago to 185GW now.

This incorporates projects at any stage regardless of whether they are operational, under construction, approved, in the planning system or at an early stage of development.

Floating offshore wind projects use floating structures rather than the traditional fixed methods, offering new opportunities to sites further offshore where the wind is greater but the sea is deeper.

So far, during the past 12 months, the number of projects has increased from 130 to 230, according to data experts at RenewableUK, which keeps the UK in prime position of having a considerably larger pipeline than any other country.

The UK’s pipeline has increased from 23GW a year ago to more than 33GW, with an expansion of projects progressing from 29 last year to 51 to date. These are being developed in the North Sea (Scottish and English waters), Celtic Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.

With a global pipeline of 185GW, this is broken down as 121MW fully commissioned across nine projects in seven countries, 96MW under construction, 288MW either consented or in the pre-construction phase, 31GW in planning or lease agreement and 153GW in early development or in the leasing process.

A total of 107GW floating capacity is being developed in Europe with 33.3GW of this in the UK (29GW is in Scottish waters), while outside Europe most of the remaining capacity lies in leasing areas off the west coast of the USA and project proposals off the southeast coast of Australia and South Korea.
It is expected that floating wind capacity could reach 11GW in the UK, 31GW in Europe and 41GW globally by the end of 2030, according to the report, as the demand for floating foundations is forecast to surge.

The increased interest in floating foundations brings the potential for nearly 1,000 floating foundations to be installed in UK waters by the end of 2030, while worldwide 3,200 floating foundations could be installed by the end of the decade.

The report was released this week at RenewableUK’s Floating Offshore Wind 2022 conference and exhibition in Aberdeen and is available to members of RenewableUK.

Dan McGrail, RenewableUK CEO, said: “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.

“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”.

Lewis Murray, Senior Consultant – Sustainable Energy at Acre, said: “Floating offshore wind’s explosive growth in the UK and Europe is both highly encouraging and interesting. The next five years will tell us whether this is a technology in the renewables mix that will remain niche or become a permanent fixture in the global net-zero energy generation system, as investment continues to pour in to provide greater technological advances"

​Lewis works for Acre’s Sustainable Energy team, leading executive mandates in the UK and internationally in the renewable energy and carbon markets. Prior to Acre, Lewis spent over 5 years supporting market-leading Energy organisations and consultancies with senior-level staff across multiple technologies and geographies.