How Scotland has a unique opportunity to become a leader in floating offshore wind

Floating offshore wind is an innovative technology with an exciting future in Scotland. Floating wind farms can be positioned in deeper water than is possible with traditional turbines fixed to the ocean floor, giving access to stronger, more consistent wind. This greater flexibility when siting a project also allows turbines to be placed further away from the shore, minimising visual impact and addressing concerns of other users of the sea.

Orsted's 1000th turbine in UK waters at the Hornsea Two Offshore wind farm
Orsted's 1000th turbine in UK waters at the Hornsea Two Offshore wind farm

This technology has huge potential for Scotland, a country with one-quarter of Europe’s total offshore wind resource, much of which is over deeper water, creating enormous potential for the development of floating offshore wind.

Although Scotland was the first country in the world to install floating wind farms back in 2017, its floating projects have remained modest in size, 25 times smaller than the 1.3 gigawatt Hornsea Two wind farm located 55 miles off the Yorkshire coast, which will be the world’s largest traditional offshore wind farm when it comes online next year.

Through the ScotWind leasing round, the Scottish Government is now offering a great opportunity to begin developing large-scale floating offshore wind projects.

In response to this, Ørsted has committed to developingfloating wind projects in Scotland through the ScotWind leasing round, submitting bids both for sites which include a mix of bottom-fixed and floating wind farms, as well as floating only bids in partnership with Falck Renewables and BlueFloat Energy.

These projects are being developed on an accelerated timeline in order to deliver green power for Scotland by the end of this decade, creating a pipeline of floating projects that would help position Scotland as a global hub for floating wind manufacturing and technology.

This world-leading status will bring long-term jobs to communities across the country, both on the projects themselves and also throughout the supply chain. Any company winning a lease to develop offshore wind in Scotland will need to work closely with local colleges and universities to ensure we train the next generation of technicians, engineers and project managers to deliver this, and also work to retrain and make the most of the huge pool of talent that already exists in the oil and gas industry.

Ørsted is confident that it can deliver large-scale floating wind projects in Scotland within a relatively short timeframe. Decades of experience and expertise in designing and delivering large-scale offshore wind projects on time and on budget can help deliver floating wind projects into operation by 2030 in line with the Scottish Government’s target of 11GW of installed offshore wind by this date.

Scotland has a unique opportunity to become a leader in the new technology of floating offshore wind, not just with demonstration-scale projects but also by building large-scale commercial infrastructure which will set the bar for the rest of the world.

Over the next ten years, floating offshore wind technology will continue to develop and can be commercialised as it comes down the cost curve and moves towards cost-competitiveness with bottom-fixed offshore wind.

Our decades-long involvement in offshore wind developmentbrings deep experience in end-to-end engineering, construction, operations, maintenance and supply chain development. This unrivalled track record of innovation, driving down cost and industrialising bottom-fixed offshore wind, as well as access to our pipeline of global projects, means we bring a lot of capabilities that will help de-risk and fast-track the floating industry.

With our unmatched experience in offshore wind developments, we believe sites can be designed and built quickly and immediately begin supporting the growth of the supply chain in Scotland, unlocking investment that will create jobs and opportunities for Scottish businesses for generations.

A recent report carried out for the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council underlines this potential, suggesting that the initial creation of a Scottish Floating Offshore Wind Port Cluster would deliver £1.5 billion in economic benefits to Scotland, which could be multiplied three times more with additional investment in fabrication capacity at Scottish ports.

Tapping into the expertise that already exists in Scotland and coupling it with Ørsted’s experience will be crucial in helping Scotland remain at the forefront of this exciting new technology.

As the global leader in offshore wind, Ørsted has more than 3,000 employees dedicated to offshore wind, covering all aspects of developing, constructing, operating and owning offshore wind farms.

Ørsted has constructed 7.5GW of offshore wind and has more than 30 years of experience in the sector, having built the world’s first offshore wind farm in 1991.

The company currently has 27 offshore wind farms in operation across Europe, the United States and Asia-Pacific, and has 2.3GW currently under construction. This includes the Hornsea 2 wind farm which, when fully commissioned next year, will be the world’s largest operational offshore wind farm, and Ørsted wind farms will be supplying over 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity.

Headquartered in Denmark, Ørsted has built several offshore wind farms in the North Sea as a trusted partner to governments in Denmark, the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands.

In the past five years alone, Ørsted has placed major contracts with nearly 100 UK suppliers, with many hundreds more businesses supported in the wider supply chain.

The company has also worked with more than 30 UK-basedfirms who have exported goods and services to support Ørsted’s global offshore wind farm portfolio, including Scottish companies working on projects in Taiwan, Germany and the US. Scotland is particularly well placed to benefit from floating projects due to its expertise in subsea engineering.

Duncan Clark is Head of the UK Region for Ørsted

Partnership to unlock floating wind potential

Earlier this year, Ørsted announced a partnership to develop large-scale floating offshore wind projects alongside onshore wind community engagement pioneer Falck Renewables and floating wind expert BlueFloat Energy.

The partnership committed to more than £3 billion of expenditure in Scotland linked directly to its large-scale floating wind farms, with an ambition to increase this to over £5bn. This would kick-start Scotland’s floating wind industry, creating opportunities for Scottish ports and companies to grow.

These proposals would also provide more than 2,200MW of clean, renewable electricity if the consortium’s bids are successful.

The consortium combines Ørsted’s unparalleled track record in offshore wind with BlueFloat Energy’s unique knowledge and experience in developing, financing and executing floating wind projects, and Falck Renewables’ track record in global project development and community engagement in Scotland.

Martin Neubert, chief commercial officer at Ørsted, says: “We recently announced our strategic decision to pursue floating wind opportunities and to drive the commercialisation of this technology. Our ScotWind bids reaffirm Ørsted’s commitment to this exciting and rapidly developing new technology.

“Allying our strong in-house development, EPC and O&M capabilities with partners that have hands-on experience in floating wind projects and a strong local presence in Scotland will enable us to deliver an exciting new proposition for Scotland.”

Carlos Martin, BlueFloat Energy’s chief executive, adds: “We believe our consortium is very well placed to deliver floating wind projects at the scale and within the timeframe expected by the Scottish Government.

“We are committed to unlocking the opportunity of offshore wind for the local industry and harnessing the value for the communities in Scotland.

“We have leveraged our experience in floating wind to design a supply chain that combines cost-effective and timely delivery with a plan to develop a floating wind cluster across multiple sites in Scotland that could create diverse opportunities throughout key communities”

Richard Dibley, managing director of Falck Renewables UK, says: “With our more than 15 years’ experience developing onshore wind projects in Scotland which share their economic benefit as widely as possible with local people, Falck Renewables is ideally positioned to help develop a collaborative framework for the offshore wind sector which supports the creation of local jobs, skills and value for local communities.

“This is a huge opportunity to scale-up the capacity and capability of the workforce in Scotland to develop a world-class competitive floating industry, building on the skills of the Scottish SMEs already active in engineering, marine and subsea markets while supporting the Scottish Government in its move to energy transition and achieving net-zero.”