Looking to the future at the Floating Wind Solutions conference
At the end of January, major players in the wind and offshore industries gathered in Houston, USA for the annual Floating Wind Solutions conference and exhibition. This year’s conference came at a particularly interesting time for floating offshore wind (FOW), especially in the US.
With its extensive coastlines and deep-water locations, as well as Federal government support, US FOW installations are growing in appeal. The US market was boosted by an offshore wind lease sale off the coast of California in December 2022, making FOW installations bi-coastal fixtures for the first time.
A fast-moving industry
High on the event’s agenda were the challenges facing FOW projects. Development cycles are still long – around 8 to 10 years – and obstacles remain in terms of financing, insurability, supply chain and operations and maintenance (O&M).
Take the example of the Kincardine Offshore Wind Farm off the coast of Aberdeen, Scotland. The largest FOW farm in the world, Kincardine is home to five 9.5 MW turbines in waters ranging from 60m to 80m deep. Last year, the Kincardine farm suffered a component failure on one of its turbines. To solve the issue, this FOWT had to be towed back to port to replace the component, before being returned and reconnected to the site. This long process triggered discussions surrounding the FOW O&M, still in its infancy.
Pioneers in the FOW industry
It was clear from our exchanges during the conference that Bureau Veritas has a key role to play as the FOW industry matures and contributes to the global energy transition. We had many in depth exchanges about certification services. While the technologies involved in FOW are maturing, the regulatory framework governing it is slower to develop, and not yet fully defined in many countries.
This event was an opportunity to discuss with our partners and stakeholders on the issues this presents. Many developers, coming from insurance companies, do not have a clear view on certification requirements. We can help close this regulatory and knowledge gap.
As pioneers in safety and FOW projects across the world, we are ready to help owners and operators make sense of this fast-evolving landscape.