Standardisation in floating wind, specifically floating wind substructures, is a must if this wind energy technology is to meaningfully contribute to the renewable energy mix in the next decade, according to K2 Management.
Although floating wind projects are rolling out worldwide, the technology, and with it the supply chain, must be consolidated as per conventional offshore foundations previously in order to move beyond the R&D phase and into full-scale commercial deployment, the consultancy company said.
“Holistic structures that comprise a specialised turbine and base will certainly be on the floating wind menu in future, but turbine manufacturers are just not considering developing the floating-specific turbines that will be key to this next step tech at present”, said Will Sheard, Director of Analysis and Due Diligence, K2 Management.
“The big OEMs are cautious about taking on R&D risk, particularly at three-to-five turbine demonstrator scale; they want the proven track record of their existing turbine models with minor adjustments to fit a floating base provided by another supplier. But this attitude is forcing the risk and R&D pressure elsewhere – and now we have as many base concepts as we do base OEMs”.
K2 Management forecasts an increase in both partnerships and OEM acquisitions in floating wind as investors look to secure supply chain confidence.
“Base OEMs are typically smaller businesses without the balance sheet to drive convergence of design and therefore commercial scalability. In order to achieve floating wind at the required scale, however, investors need confidence in the supply chain – and there are potential procurement risks in having such a disparity of options available from highly specialised firms”, Will Sheard said.
Funding and consolidation will be critical in boosting broader investor confidence in the sector, Sheard said, further adding that there must be an increase in both OEM acquisitions and technology partnerships.
K2 Management expects an increase in larger players, including many from the oil and gas industry, acquiring smaller base manufacturers.
“This will make R&D conversations between turbine manufacturers and base manufacturers equitable, and accelerate development of complete, connected, commercially viable floating wind structures”, Sheard said.