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Floating offshore wind an essential component of decarbonisation efforts

With the Paris Agreement strengthening the global response to climate change, countries around the world are facing increasing pressure to phase out carbon-intensive fuels in favour of clean energy.

Onshore and offshore wind power, especially large-scale floating turbines, can play a leading role in the clean energy revolution, with global capacity expected to increase tenfold in little over a generation.

Falling hardware prices and growing confidence from investors have seen onshore wind farms become a popular and cost-effective solution. Fixed offshore technology is also maturing at a significant pace and will be an important part in the new energy mix. However, as fixed offshore wind turbines need to be sited in relatively shallow water, with depths of up to 60m, their scope is limited.

With higher capacity factors compared to onshore wind or solar, offshore wind provide greater energy reliability to emerging markets where power demand is growing, especially if aggregated over large geographical areas1.

To access the huge potential of offshore wind globally will require large-scale, floating facilities. This technology has the potential to harness wind power at greater ocean depths, providing large-scale renewable power to help countries meet ambitious decarbonisation targets.

New versions of floating wind turbines and seabed moorings can tap wind power in water depths of over 50m or more, opening up large swathes of deep water zones to renewable power generation for countries that have limited onshore space for large-scale solar or wind.

For example, deep waters and strong winds make Japan one of the most attractive countries in the world for commercializing floating wind energy. Once floating wind technology has moved past the demonstration stage to become commercially viable, Japan expects to add over 1 GW per year of the technology up to 2040.

1 gwec.net/global-wind-report-2021

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