By Holly Skyrme, Marine Energy Wales FLOW Project Coordinator
Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW) helps solve an engineering riddle for renewable energy. Installing turbines on floating platforms allows us to access the deepest waters with the strongest wind speeds possible. Areas like the Celtic Sea, previously off limits to conventional fixed offshore wind turbines that can only be deployed in relatively shallow water, up to about 60m.
With it comes the potential to provide an important, cost-effective contribution in the UK’s drive to net zero emissions, powering millions of homes. The Aberdeen FLOW Conference, hosted by Renewable UK and Scottish Renewables in October 2022, brought together 1,500 industry experts from around the UK and abroad to share best practice, communicate lessons learned, and showcase innovations.
For Marine Energy Wales it was a chance to connect with other professionals and understand in greater depth the current challenges and opportunities to help Wales seize the maximum long-term benefit.
Two days of panel discussions focused on the current barriers to deployment. There is pressure on the National Grid to improve its capacity, and for ports to implement necessary improvements to host the fabrication and construction of floating offshore wind devices. Currently, our grid capacity is incapable of handling the power that will be generated in the Celtic Sea, and our ports are not yet capable of providing a base for FLOW devices to be assembled and transported out to sea. However, the panel spoke positively of our ability to achieve this.
If there was one word persistently echoed throughout discussions and across exhibition stands, it was “collaboration.”
How can developers, government, ports, the national grid, supply chain companies and regulatory bodies work together to ensure that the benefits of FLOW are felt locally across the UK?
This is about more than just net zero, it is about a just transition and an opportunity for the UK to become a leading example of successful FLOW development across the world.
Whilst collaboration may be the latest buzz word, at Marine Energy Wales, we are putting talk into action, through means such as our Celtic Sea Developer Alliance. We want to guarantee that local communities and the supply chain see benefit and that the Celtic Sea opportunity can be as successful as its Scottish counterparts.
Although the offshore wind industry is competitive by nature, there are areas where we can work together for the greater benefit of society. Marine Energy Wales is committed to maximising Wales’ potential to play a role – and in doing so support local businesses, careers and wider social benefit.