The study, carried out by the Carbon Trust, suggests floating wind turbines are particularly well-suited to Scotland because of high wind speeds, plentiful deep-water sites close to shore and energy sector infrastructure.
“One of our hypotheses is that floating wind can actually develop quicker if Scotland does take a leading role,” said Carbon Trust analyst and lead author Rhodri James.
“Scotland could very much be at the front of that – it could help commercialise the technology, which will open up opportunities around the world to export that expertise and products as well.”
Floating turbines can be used in waters that are too deep for bottom-mounted towers. But despite having the highest fixed offshore wind capacity, the UK currently has no floating wind turbines installed.
However, there are three demonstration projects in the pipeline, all in Scotland.
Construction is set to begin on the first, off the coast of Peterhead, next year. The five-turbine scheme is due for completion in 2017 and could become the world’s first floating wind farm.
Two more pilot schemes, near Kincardine and Dounreay, are planned for 2018.
Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing said the pioneering technology could be “the next big opportunity” for Scotland after planned renewables subsidy cuts left the future of onshore wind hanging in the balance.
He said: “This report will help as we look to reduce the costs of floating wind technology and increase the opportunity for Scotland to take the lead in commercialising this technology.”
Lindsay Roberts, senior policy manager at industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “As the windiest country in Europe, and with some of the deepest waters and most promising offshore wind sites, Scotland is perfectly placed to capitalise on floating turbine technology.
“This report provides a stepping stone to understanding how Scotland can exploit floating offshore wind and tap into a global market worth billions of pounds.”
Jan Matthiesen, director of offshore wind at the Carbon Trust, highlighted the need for government and industry to work together to de-risk the technology and cut costs.
The report found the best floating wind concepts could generate electricity for £85 per megawatt-hour, which would be competitive with fixed-bottom projects if floating wind reaches commercial scale deployment in the 2020s.
The report comes amidst a row over the “disproportionate” effect on Scotland of scrapping onshore wind subsidies a year early, with more than 70 per cent of all UK onshore schemes located north of the Border.