Will France oust the UK as leader in floating wind?

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Richard Heap
April 16, 2018
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This content is from our archive. Some formatting or links may be broken.
Will France oust the UK as leader in floating wind?

The French government has been looking at how to turn the UK’s impending exit from the European Union to its advantage. Those dastardly French! Coming here and using perfectly fair methods (i.e. adverts on the London Underground) to tempt firms away.

But, sarcasm aside, there are sectors where the UK is conspiring to cede its early-mover advantage to France. One is floating wind.

We know that the UK currently hosts the largest operational floating wind farm – the 30MW Hywind Scotland – but political headwinds look set to make any subsequent schemes far tougher to deliver. This could hand the advantage to firms in France.

No doubt this will be a talking point at the floating wind-focused FOWT 2018 event in Marseille this month. There are plenty of steps needed to commercialise floating turbines, and whoever is able to take them first will be in a strong position to become an early leader in a market that could transform offshore wind.

Industry sources have suggested that the cost of floating offshore wind could fall to €40-€60/MWh by 2030, and this is likely to be sooner given this industry’s record on driving down costs. This could open up huge parts of the ocean for offshore wind – but only if companies can work to make the industry make financial sense.

The UK has emerged as an early leader, and for good reason. Statoil and Masdar completed Hywind Scotland in October 2017; and the country is also home to the world’s largest offshore wind market. But this is under threat from the government.

We only need to look back to February to see why. That is when RenewableUK and a group of floating wind specialists lobbied the UK government to extend the Renewable Obligation Certificate subsidy scheme to support the three floating projects planned in UK waters. Yes, it would be different to the way other sectors are being treated, but it could help establish the UK in this potentially huge industry. A great post-Brexit story, right?

No deal, said UK energy minister Claire Perry. She said ROCs wouldn’t be extended as it has been clear for years when the scheme would end, and could also open up the government to legal challenges. It could be disastrous for two or three projects.

For example, 2-B Energy and Hexicon have said that their Forthwind and Dounreay Tri schemes – with total capacity of up-to-60MW and 10MW respectively – would not be able to proceed without ROC support.

The third, where work could start in time to win support, is the 50MW Kincardine by Pilot Offshore Resources and ACS Cobra Wind. That would leave the UK with a 'pipeline' of one project.

That could hand the initiative to other countries that are looking at floating offshore wind farms, such as France, Japan and the US. For now, we think France is best-placed.

We saw this month that plans are afoot for a 100MW-150MW floating scheme off the coast of California, but US offshore wind is in its infancy. And Japan has a big interest in developing floating technology, but it hasn’t made any major strides since the third turbine was installed at its Fukushima Forward project in 2016.

There is also the 25MW WindFloat Atlantic scheme planned in the waters off the coast of Portugal, but it’s only one project and so won’t help to sustain an industry.

This leaves France well-placed. There are four floating projects totalling 100MW planned in its waters: SBM’s 24MW Provence Grand Large; Engie, EDP and CDC; 24MW Leucate; a Quadran-led consortium’s 25MW Gruissan; and Eolfi and CGN’s 24MW Groix. This could even become the dominant French offshore sector with ongoing uncertainty over fixed-bottom schemes.

Those working in floating wind are urging the government to back up this potential with targets. FEE has a goal for 6GW of floating wind in French waters by 2030 and has urged the government to pursue that with a 2GW tender. Perhaps this is time for France to ignore the tortuous system that is causing high prices in onshore wind and low certainty in offshore wind. We can hope.

Either way, France has a chance to nab an industry from under the UK’s noses. It just needs the confidence to actually do so.

The French government has been looking at how to turn the UK’s impending exit from the European Union to its advantage. Those dastardly French! Coming here and using perfectly fair methods (i.e. adverts on the London Underground) to tempt firms away.

But, sarcasm aside, there are sectors where the UK is conspiring to cede its early-mover advantage to France. One is floating wind.

We know that the UK currently hosts the largest operational floating wind farm – the 30MW Hywind Scotland – but political headwinds look set to make any subsequent schemes far tougher to deliver. This could hand the advantage to firms in France.

No doubt this will be a talking point at the floating wind-focused FOWT 2018 event in Marseille this month. There are plenty of steps needed to commercialise floating turbines, and whoever is able to take them first will be in a strong position to become an early leader in a market that could transform offshore wind.

Industry sources have suggested that the cost of floating offshore wind could fall to €40-€60/MWh by 2030, and this is likely to be sooner given this industry’s record on driving down costs. This could open up huge parts of the ocean for offshore wind – but only if companies can work to make the industry make financial sense.

The UK has emerged as an early leader, and for good reason. Statoil and Masdar completed Hywind Scotland in October 2017; and the country is also home to the world’s largest offshore wind market. But this is under threat from the government.

We only need to look back to February to see why. That is when RenewableUK and a group of floating wind specialists lobbied the UK government to extend the Renewable Obligation Certificate subsidy scheme to support the three floating projects planned in UK waters. Yes, it would be different to the way other sectors are being treated, but it could help establish the UK in this potentially huge industry. A great post-Brexit story, right?

No deal, said UK energy minister Claire Perry. She said ROCs wouldn’t be extended as it has been clear for years when the scheme would end, and could also open up the government to legal challenges. It could be disastrous for two or three projects.

For example, 2-B Energy and Hexicon have said that their Forthwind and Dounreay Tri schemes – with total capacity of up-to-60MW and 10MW respectively – would not be able to proceed without ROC support.

The third, where work could start in time to win support, is the 50MW Kincardine by Pilot Offshore Resources and ACS Cobra Wind. That would leave the UK with a 'pipeline' of one project.

That could hand the initiative to other countries that are looking at floating offshore wind farms, such as France, Japan and the US. For now, we think France is best-placed.

We saw this month that plans are afoot for a 100MW-150MW floating scheme off the coast of California, but US offshore wind is in its infancy. And Japan has a big interest in developing floating technology, but it hasn’t made any major strides since the third turbine was installed at its Fukushima Forward project in 2016.

There is also the 25MW WindFloat Atlantic scheme planned in the waters off the coast of Portugal, but it’s only one project and so won’t help to sustain an industry.

This leaves France well-placed. There are four floating projects totalling 100MW planned in its waters: SBM’s 24MW Provence Grand Large; Engie, EDP and CDC; 24MW Leucate; a Quadran-led consortium’s 25MW Gruissan; and Eolfi and CGN’s 24MW Groix. This could even become the dominant French offshore sector with ongoing uncertainty over fixed-bottom schemes.

Those working in floating wind are urging the government to back up this potential with targets. FEE has a goal for 6GW of floating wind in French waters by 2030 and has urged the government to pursue that with a 2GW tender. Perhaps this is time for France to ignore the tortuous system that is causing high prices in onshore wind and low certainty in offshore wind. We can hope.

Either way, France has a chance to nab an industry from under the UK’s noses. It just needs the confidence to actually do so.

The French government has been looking at how to turn the UK’s impending exit from the European Union to its advantage. Those dastardly French! Coming here and using perfectly fair methods (i.e. adverts on the London Underground) to tempt firms away.

But, sarcasm aside, there are sectors where the UK is conspiring to cede its early-mover advantage to France. One is floating wind.

We know that the UK currently hosts the largest operational floating wind farm – the 30MW Hywind Scotland – but political headwinds look set to make any subsequent schemes far tougher to deliver. This could hand the advantage to firms in France.

No doubt this will be a talking point at the floating wind-focused FOWT 2018 event in Marseille this month. There are plenty of steps needed to commercialise floating turbines, and whoever is able to take them first will be in a strong position to become an early leader in a market that could transform offshore wind.

Industry sources have suggested that the cost of floating offshore wind could fall to €40-€60/MWh by 2030, and this is likely to be sooner given this industry’s record on driving down costs. This could open up huge parts of the ocean for offshore wind – but only if companies can work to make the industry make financial sense.

The UK has emerged as an early leader, and for good reason. Statoil and Masdar completed Hywind Scotland in October 2017; and the country is also home to the world’s largest offshore wind market. But this is under threat from the government.

We only need to look back to February to see why. That is when RenewableUK and a group of floating wind specialists lobbied the UK government to extend the Renewable Obligation Certificate subsidy scheme to support the three floating projects planned in UK waters. Yes, it would be different to the way other sectors are being treated, but it could help establish the UK in this potentially huge industry. A great post-Brexit story, right?

No deal, said UK energy minister Claire Perry. She said ROCs wouldn’t be extended as it has been clear for years when the scheme would end, and could also open up the government to legal challenges. It could be disastrous for two or three projects.

For example, 2-B Energy and Hexicon have said that their Forthwind and Dounreay Tri schemes – with total capacity of up-to-60MW and 10MW respectively – would not be able to proceed without ROC support.

The third, where work could start in time to win support, is the 50MW Kincardine by Pilot Offshore Resources and ACS Cobra Wind. That would leave the UK with a 'pipeline' of one project.

That could hand the initiative to other countries that are looking at floating offshore wind farms, such as France, Japan and the US. For now, we think France is best-placed.

We saw this month that plans are afoot for a 100MW-150MW floating scheme off the coast of California, but US offshore wind is in its infancy. And Japan has a big interest in developing floating technology, but it hasn’t made any major strides since the third turbine was installed at its Fukushima Forward project in 2016.

There is also the 25MW WindFloat Atlantic scheme planned in the waters off the coast of Portugal, but it’s only one project and so won’t help to sustain an industry.

This leaves France well-placed. There are four floating projects totalling 100MW planned in its waters: SBM’s 24MW Provence Grand Large; Engie, EDP and CDC; 24MW Leucate; a Quadran-led consortium’s 25MW Gruissan; and Eolfi and CGN’s 24MW Groix. This could even become the dominant French offshore sector with ongoing uncertainty over fixed-bottom schemes.

Those working in floating wind are urging the government to back up this potential with targets. FEE has a goal for 6GW of floating wind in French waters by 2030 and has urged the government to pursue that with a 2GW tender. Perhaps this is time for France to ignore the tortuous system that is causing high prices in onshore wind and low certainty in offshore wind. We can hope.

Either way, France has a chance to nab an industry from under the UK’s noses. It just needs the confidence to actually do so.

The French government has been looking at how to turn the UK’s impending exit from the European Union to its advantage. Those dastardly French! Coming here and using perfectly fair methods (i.e. adverts on the London Underground) to tempt firms away.

But, sarcasm aside, there are sectors where the UK is conspiring to cede its early-mover advantage to France. One is floating wind.

We know that the UK currently hosts the largest operational floating wind farm – the 30MW Hywind Scotland – but political headwinds look set to make any subsequent schemes far tougher to deliver. This could hand the advantage to firms in France.

No doubt this will be a talking point at the floating wind-focused FOWT 2018 event in Marseille this month. There are plenty of steps needed to commercialise floating turbines, and whoever is able to take them first will be in a strong position to become an early leader in a market that could transform offshore wind.

Industry sources have suggested that the cost of floating offshore wind could fall to €40-€60/MWh by 2030, and this is likely to be sooner given this industry’s record on driving down costs. This could open up huge parts of the ocean for offshore wind – but only if companies can work to make the industry make financial sense.

The UK has emerged as an early leader, and for good reason. Statoil and Masdar completed Hywind Scotland in October 2017; and the country is also home to the world’s largest offshore wind market. But this is under threat from the government.

We only need to look back to February to see why. That is when RenewableUK and a group of floating wind specialists lobbied the UK government to extend the Renewable Obligation Certificate subsidy scheme to support the three floating projects planned in UK waters. Yes, it would be different to the way other sectors are being treated, but it could help establish the UK in this potentially huge industry. A great post-Brexit story, right?

No deal, said UK energy minister Claire Perry. She said ROCs wouldn’t be extended as it has been clear for years when the scheme would end, and could also open up the government to legal challenges. It could be disastrous for two or three projects.

For example, 2-B Energy and Hexicon have said that their Forthwind and Dounreay Tri schemes – with total capacity of up-to-60MW and 10MW respectively – would not be able to proceed without ROC support.

The third, where work could start in time to win support, is the 50MW Kincardine by Pilot Offshore Resources and ACS Cobra Wind. That would leave the UK with a 'pipeline' of one project.

That could hand the initiative to other countries that are looking at floating offshore wind farms, such as France, Japan and the US. For now, we think France is best-placed.

We saw this month that plans are afoot for a 100MW-150MW floating scheme off the coast of California, but US offshore wind is in its infancy. And Japan has a big interest in developing floating technology, but it hasn’t made any major strides since the third turbine was installed at its Fukushima Forward project in 2016.

There is also the 25MW WindFloat Atlantic scheme planned in the waters off the coast of Portugal, but it’s only one project and so won’t help to sustain an industry.

This leaves France well-placed. There are four floating projects totalling 100MW planned in its waters: SBM’s 24MW Provence Grand Large; Engie, EDP and CDC; 24MW Leucate; a Quadran-led consortium’s 25MW Gruissan; and Eolfi and CGN’s 24MW Groix. This could even become the dominant French offshore sector with ongoing uncertainty over fixed-bottom schemes.

Those working in floating wind are urging the government to back up this potential with targets. FEE has a goal for 6GW of floating wind in French waters by 2030 and has urged the government to pursue that with a 2GW tender. Perhaps this is time for France to ignore the tortuous system that is causing high prices in onshore wind and low certainty in offshore wind. We can hope.

Either way, France has a chance to nab an industry from under the UK’s noses. It just needs the confidence to actually do so.

The French government has been looking at how to turn the UK’s impending exit from the European Union to its advantage. Those dastardly French! Coming here and using perfectly fair methods (i.e. adverts on the London Underground) to tempt firms away.

But, sarcasm aside, there are sectors where the UK is conspiring to cede its early-mover advantage to France. One is floating wind.

We know that the UK currently hosts the largest operational floating wind farm – the 30MW Hywind Scotland – but political headwinds look set to make any subsequent schemes far tougher to deliver. This could hand the advantage to firms in France.

No doubt this will be a talking point at the floating wind-focused FOWT 2018 event in Marseille this month. There are plenty of steps needed to commercialise floating turbines, and whoever is able to take them first will be in a strong position to become an early leader in a market that could transform offshore wind.

Industry sources have suggested that the cost of floating offshore wind could fall to €40-€60/MWh by 2030, and this is likely to be sooner given this industry’s record on driving down costs. This could open up huge parts of the ocean for offshore wind – but only if companies can work to make the industry make financial sense.

The UK has emerged as an early leader, and for good reason. Statoil and Masdar completed Hywind Scotland in October 2017; and the country is also home to the world’s largest offshore wind market. But this is under threat from the government.

We only need to look back to February to see why. That is when RenewableUK and a group of floating wind specialists lobbied the UK government to extend the Renewable Obligation Certificate subsidy scheme to support the three floating projects planned in UK waters. Yes, it would be different to the way other sectors are being treated, but it could help establish the UK in this potentially huge industry. A great post-Brexit story, right?

No deal, said UK energy minister Claire Perry. She said ROCs wouldn’t be extended as it has been clear for years when the scheme would end, and could also open up the government to legal challenges. It could be disastrous for two or three projects.

For example, 2-B Energy and Hexicon have said that their Forthwind and Dounreay Tri schemes – with total capacity of up-to-60MW and 10MW respectively – would not be able to proceed without ROC support.

The third, where work could start in time to win support, is the 50MW Kincardine by Pilot Offshore Resources and ACS Cobra Wind. That would leave the UK with a 'pipeline' of one project.

That could hand the initiative to other countries that are looking at floating offshore wind farms, such as France, Japan and the US. For now, we think France is best-placed.

We saw this month that plans are afoot for a 100MW-150MW floating scheme off the coast of California, but US offshore wind is in its infancy. And Japan has a big interest in developing floating technology, but it hasn’t made any major strides since the third turbine was installed at its Fukushima Forward project in 2016.

There is also the 25MW WindFloat Atlantic scheme planned in the waters off the coast of Portugal, but it’s only one project and so won’t help to sustain an industry.

This leaves France well-placed. There are four floating projects totalling 100MW planned in its waters: SBM’s 24MW Provence Grand Large; Engie, EDP and CDC; 24MW Leucate; a Quadran-led consortium’s 25MW Gruissan; and Eolfi and CGN’s 24MW Groix. This could even become the dominant French offshore sector with ongoing uncertainty over fixed-bottom schemes.

Those working in floating wind are urging the government to back up this potential with targets. FEE has a goal for 6GW of floating wind in French waters by 2030 and has urged the government to pursue that with a 2GW tender. Perhaps this is time for France to ignore the tortuous system that is causing high prices in onshore wind and low certainty in offshore wind. We can hope.

Either way, France has a chance to nab an industry from under the UK’s noses. It just needs the confidence to actually do so.

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Not a member yet?

Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.