Takeaways from FOWT 2019 in Montpellier

The annual event in the South of France saw more than 800 visitors from 28 countries across five continents. It is clear that this industry is beyond its demonstrator stage, to pre-commercial even and expectations are growing towards the first 1GW feed-in by floating wind energy, which was this year’s theme. A good crowd of designers, developers, some utilities and lots of supply chain attendees made for a good event, inside the conference room as well as on the exhibition floor.

The broad conference programme of papers and sessions covering every aspect of development delivered too many takeaways to list them all, so following are some of the main topics.

France’s Energy Programme is under revision. In 2021 the 1st floating tender in Europe for 250 MW in Brittany will be followed by another 250MW in the Mediterranean a year later. Then in 2024 a floating tender will follow for 250-500MW ‘depending on prices’. This is still at the lower end of the French floating wind industry’s expectations. The Eolfi Brittany Groix project consent is to be confirmed shortly and the commercial follow up project will see a 5-year lead time.

The UK aims to create a long-term certainty for developments with £557 million Contracts for Difference (CfD). It was stated that floating wind will not be treated differently than bottom-fixed which may indicate trust in cost parity between them. Hywind Scotland is now reported with a 57% capacity factor and 95% up time. Saipem’s Hexafloat design will be deployed in a demonstrator project offshore West Ireland in 2022.

Two informative presentations were shown from the US BOEM who is currently processing three Construction and Operations Plans (COPs) for the East Coast bottom-fixed projects. The October 2018 invitation for nominations for the California call areas Diablo Canyon, Morro Bay and Humboldt, returned interest from 14 parties: Equinor Wind US, EDF Renewables, EDP Renewables North America, Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA), WPD Offshore Alpha, Avangrid Renewables (Iberdrola), Castle Wind, Northland Power America, US Mainstream Renewable Power, Algonquin Power Fund (America), Cierco Corporation, EC&R Development (E.ON), Mission Floating Wind and Northcoast Floating Wind.
BOEM sees floating as an opportunity to balance out the feed to the grid. California is well underway, but Hawaii is mentioned as “Ongoing efforts off Hawaii”.
BOEM was asked why they did not designate deeper water call areas more suitable for float. It was answered to the effect that they didn’t have to as “the East Coast might be seeing floating wind sooner than the West Coast”. This refers to developers having shown interest in Maine and Massachusetts for floating development but at the same time confirms Q FWE’s forecasting float on the East Coast ever since Empire Wind was announced.

South Korea
The plans for the wind park offshore Ulsan were further explained as already posted in detail by Q FWE in early March.
The projects will be named as follows:
CIP 200 MW: Ulsan White Heron
GIG 200MW: Gray Whale
Shell 200MW: Donghae TwinWind
KFWind 200MW: KFWind project
Equinor KNOC 200MW: tbd
The last group is now officially recognised as the 5th consortium.

The new government policy will be in place April 2019 after which designation of promotional zones will follow. Selection of the developers is planned for 2020 with earliest project COD in 2025 (with 3 construction years included).
The developers will be selected on a system where points will be allocated for qualities such as Capability, Price and Local content.
It is rumoured that an Ideol concrete demonstrator floater for Kitakyushu is going ahead, COD 2020. Their presentation noted that they are ready to deliver one floater every other week.

The Clean Energy for EU Islands presented its allocating of some 20 islands in Europe (1% of all its islands) that could be served with small scale floating wind developments. Chair WindEurope Task Force Floating Wind, Bruno Geschier suggested floating wind could as well be installed in waters of 30m.

MHI Vestas believes that O&M strategy should be generic regardless of specific location, but recognises that with further development of the industry new improved strategies will present themselves.
Another industry leader in the know told us that turbines have developed such that unexpected maintenance will be soon a thing of the past. Except exceptions of course.

On a personal note: The buzz and cross-industry presence from utility to supply chain companies tells us “we’re on”. Skepticism is being replaced by awareness. For the nay-sayers: this might well prove to be your wakeup call…

FOWT will return to Marseille next year. 22-24th April 2020.

Erik Rijkers
Quest Floating Wind Energy
What’s Floatin’