UK funding boost aims to push floating offshore wind towards industrialisation

Cheaper platforms and bigger cables take the largest share of £61 million UK floating wind development funding

The biggest single grant went to a SenseWind-led project comprising a compact floating foundation with a novel anchoring system and advanced monitoring technology
The biggest single grant went to a SenseWind-led project comprising a compact floating foundation with a novel anchoring system and advanced monitoring technology

The UK government has backed 11 development projects looking to drive down the cost of floating offshore wind, with £31.6 million (€37.7 million) of grant funding matched by £30 million (€35.8 million) of private money. 

The floating offshore wind demonstration programme falls within the £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, which aims to accelerate commercialisation of low-carbon technologies.

Among the grants was £1.6 million for JDR Cables, in cooperation with R&D body ORE Catapult, to develop dynamic cables rated above the current maximum of 66kV. The industry will require “significantly higher dynamic voltage cables” as turbine sizes, distances from shore and water depth all increase, said the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) when it announced the funding.

The JDR project aims to increase cable capacity to 132kV, improve modelling to allow for higher cable loading and integrate fibre optics into export and array cables to improve monitoring and maintenance.

Floating platform demonstrators

Three of the largest grants went to consortia working on demonstrators for floating platform designs: £10 million for SenseWind’s combined tension leg platform and installation system, £3 million for Trivane’s trimaran-style platform and £3.5 million for Swansea-based Global Power Systems’ version with an integrated wave generator.

A Copenhagen Offshore Partners-led project, with partners including SSE Renewables and Maersk Supply Service Subsea, was awarded £9.7 million for a suite of novel technologies to be demonstrated at a site off northern Scotland in 2023.

Of these, two are mechanical – a new mooring system and an “optimised” cable protection system  — while the other two are a new floater assembly methodology and a “digital twin” and monitoring system.

The other six grants, each less than £1 million, went to mooring, substation and manufacturing projects.

For a full list of the 11 successful projects click here.

Floating wind is a key technology for the UK and the government wants to deliver 1GW of floating offshore wind capacity by 2030. Earlier this month up to 15GW of floating wind projects came forward in an auction of seabed leases in Scottish waters.

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