Scaling Floating Offshore Wind

How a two-stage allocation process for European floating offshore windcan contribute to accelerating innovation and value chain development

Floating offshore wind is essential for reaching Europe’s energy targets, given the limitations in suitable locations for bottom-fixed offshore wind. However, floating offshore wind is still in a pre-commercial phase. To support the technology’s potential in relation to the European transition, three main tasks must be addressed on both a national and EU-level:

a) An accelerated development of floating offshore wind, surpassing the historical bottom-fixed development pace, is needed
b) A specialized value chain for floating wind based on industrialized production processes must be developed
c) Sufficient project scale at an early stage is vital to ensure an efficient development path with regards to infrastructure, methodology and skillset

However, achieving these three tasks’ simultaneously is challenging. Investing in a market that is developing industrial scale infrastructure and the associated value chain, carries an inherent risk related to the ultimate cost of projects for potential investors. Without compensating measures, three distinct market failures can occur: inflated project costs, reduced competition, and lack of innovation.

Today’s existing support mechanisms for offshore wind, which in different variations involve financial competition in the early stages of projects, take little consideration to this barrier. As such, an adaptation to such mechanisms is needed to effectively accelerate the development of floating offshore wind in Europe, enabling its crucial role in achieving Europe’s climate goals.