Assessing the future of fixed and floating wind projects

Jan. 28 2021 - 7 min

The offshore wind energy market is continuing to expand, thanks to a mix of favorable government policies, increasing investment and reduced costs. 30 GW of offshore wind capacity has already been installed[1], and market analysts expect more than 100 GW to be under construction by 2025[2]. Specifically in Europe, this means that offshore wind CAPEX will top that of traditional oil and gas by 2022[3].

For fixed-bottom wind turbines, Europe and the UK represent the largest market, with more than 40 GW capacity expected to start construction by 2025. The global market for fixed wind extends to China, which aims to start installing 30 GW of wind power, and the United States, which is targeting 25 GW.

The now-mature technology for offshore fixed wind turbines has allowed these projects to become profitable, even with few or no subsidies. Thanks to this, fixed wind can play a key role in the energy transition, helping countries meet their carbon reduction pledges.

Meanwhile, the floating wind sector is making the crucial transition from pre-commercial to commercial projects, anticipating the need to install offshore wind farms in deeper waters. In France, for example, four pilot farms of about 30 MW each were announced in 2017 and will start producing this year or next.

The United Kingdom’s Kincardine pilot project should also come into service this year, with a capacity of 50 MW. Overall, a global pipeline for floating wind suggests around 10 GW will be installed by 2030. As commercial farms give way to industrial farms, countries without access to shallow water will be able to easily access clean energy.

Accelerating the winds of change

The rapid development of offshore wind is being supported by R&D projects that aim to reduce CAPEX and OPEX, while increasing the power-generation capacity and use cases for wind farms. Offshore wind industry players promoting these initiatives include:

  • Equipment manufacturers developing innovative projects, such as designs for mega-turbines and high-voltage dynamic cables
  • Project developers developing new wind farm architecture based on mutualized mooring systems or Power-to-X architecture
  • Technology and EPC specialists making new designs for floating foundations and electrical substations
  • International oil companies investing heavily in the offshore wind market, with a focus on R&D projects. These players are also bringing their expertise in project management and development for large projects, including in-depth knowledge of the supply chain
  • Digital solution providers positioning themselves to support the OPEX phase, offering structural health monitoring (SHM) and condition-based monitoring (CBM) solutions, digital twins, remote inspection techniques and more

Supporting key offshore wind projects

Bureau Veritas offers extensive support to offshore fixed-bottom and floating wind farm projects around Europe and throughout the world.

Our work includes project certification for three landmark offshore fixed wind farms being developed by EDF Renewables – Saint-Nazaire, Fécamp and Courseulles-sur-Mer – representing nearly 1,500 MW of power. In the United Kingdom, our experts are providing project certification and OSS certification for the Moray East wind farm. In 2020, Bureau Veritas will also be providing certified verification agent (CVA) services for a 1.2 GW offshore wind farm in Maryland, USA.

For floating offshore wind farms, Bureau Veritas is providing project certification, helping project developers ensure that projects are de-risked as much as possible. We are also working with technology providers to support the commercialization of their innovative products. Our experts can provide design assessment, site evaluations, load analysis, and surveillance from commissioning to installation for floating wind farms. We are providing certification for all four floating wind farms being developed in France, and have issued Approval in Principles for several floating foundations.

As a trusted certification body, classification society and provider of independent technical services, Bureau Veritas and its subsidiaries are supporting world of offshore wind with key expertise. We offer a full ecosystem of services for fixed and floating wind farms and offshore service vessels, seeing offshore wind projects through from end-to-end.

[1] 1 GW of offshore wind-generated power would be enough to power every home in the United Kingdom,
[2], supported by BV research