Ellen Meyers of S&P Global Market Intelligence writes about the positive momentum driving offshore floating wind.
Developers eye big bets on floating offshore wind turbines
Off the rugged coast of Northern California’s Humboldt County, renewable energy developers are hoping to construct a utility-scale floating offshore wind farm, part of a broader effort to scale up the technology and turn floating wind into a global clean energy supplier.
EDP Renováveis‘ North American offshore wind unit formed a public-private partnership with four other renewable energy companies to develop a utility-scale floating offshore wind project off the California coast with Eureka-based energy provider Redwood Coast Energy Authority. The WindFloat project will be between 100 MW and 150 MW of generation capacity, and EDPR plans to secure funding by 2022 at the earliest.
EDP Renováveis is one of a handful of companies betting that floating offshore wind technology will eventually become a thriving, profitable industry. Given the costs and logistical challenges of installing and operating floating turbines in deep ocean waters, though, that is by no means a sure thing.
Enrique Alvarez-Uria, EDPR’s offshore development director, said the WindFloat project will reach utility-scale in three phases: at 2 MW, then at 30 MW before it reaches more than 100 MW. EDPR benefits from previous experience in floating offshore wind projects, such as its joint 24-MW floating offshore wind pilot project with ENGIE SA in France. But Alvarez-Uria acknowledged that the nascent technology faces commercial challenges with a limited track record and an undeveloped supply chain.