The development of floating offshore wind technology is vital in the fight against climate change and in helping the UK meet its carbon reduction commitment targets by 2050. Accelerating the commercialisation of floating offshore wind will unlock the wind power potential of deep-water sites across Europe, particularly the UK, and develop opportunities for the local supply chain. The challenge is to progress floating wind technology from the “Commercial Trial” phase to “Commercial Scale-Up”.
STEP4WIND is a €2.7 million Horizon 2020-funded project that looks to address both the technical and economic challenges related to the development of floating offshore wind farms. STEP4WIND will help maintain Europe’s status as a world-leader in offshore wind development, through technology innovation and skills development tailored to easing the transition from fixed offshore to floating wind energy. In doing so, the project will deliver a suite of technological advances and guidelines towards lowering the levelised cost of energy (LCoE) of floating offshore wind and provide a clear roadmap to commercialisation.
ORE Catapult is part of a consortium of eight partners collaborating in this project:
The Catapult will support the project by providing LIDAR data from our Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine in Fife, Scotland to help develop and validate tools for unsteady aerodynamic modelling, an area not well understood and modelled in offshore wind.
The Catapult will also provide access to our unique test rig that allows mechanical and electrical loads to be applied simultaneously. To date, dynamic cables are a sticking point for floating offshore wind. Using our rig, we will perform combined simultaneous mechanical and electrical testing of cables and compare this to numerical simulations for the first time.
Additionally, ORE Catapult will lead on the risk analysis in the development of floating offshore wind farms so that the early stage researchers can apply these methods to different floating wind designs. Finally, the Catapult will organise full workshops alongside other consortium partners to disseminate results and training throughout the floating offshore wind sector.
As well as advancing technology within this industry, ORE Catapult and the consortium partners will improve the skills development within the floating offshore wind sector. The European Technology & Innovation Platform on Wind Energy (ETIPWind) highlighted that there is currently a shortage of 7,000 qualified personnel required by the European wind energy sector each year, with the figure increasing to 15,000 by 2030. This shortage is not only a result of a lack of technicians, engineers and manual workers, but also a skills gap between early stage researchers (ESRs) and industry needs.
STEP4WIND will help to fill this gap by training 13 ESRs in the industry’s first industrial training network exclusively focusing on floating offshore wind to assess the impact of technological advances on scale-up of floating wind farms. These ESRs will be experts in their field, completing a PhD and working in collaboration with industry and academia (i.e. applied research). Training is organised jointly by world-leading universities such as Delft University of Technology, Politecnico di Milano and the University College Cork and key industry players including Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, Principle Power France and Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult who spearhead the deployment of floating wind farms. STEP4WIND’s training within the floating wind sector will reduce the skills gap that currently exists and increase a range of scientific and market-oriented skills with the ultimate aim of reducing the LCoE.
The project will progress a number of technologies in different areas of floating offshore wind including its installation, hydrogen storage and robotics solutions. The overall research objectives of this project include: