Recognising that close to 80 per cent of the ocean’s resource potential is in deep waters, Equinor is developing floating offshore wind worldwide.
Offshore wind is a highly promising source of renewable energy. Where bottom-fixed foundations can only be installed in water depths of up to 60 m, floating foundations allow access to deeper waters where the majority of the world’s best wind resources are located. Floating offshore wind is a viable and mature solution ready for market. The next step is to make it a competitive renewable energy source.
Equinor has led the development of floating offshore wind since its inception. The company commissioned the world’s first floating offshore wind farm – Hywind Scotland – in 2017 off the coast of Scotland. It is positioned for future floating wind options in several geographies, including Asia, Norway, and the UK.
Floating offshore wind is a cornerstone of Equinor’s renewable strategy to become an offshore wind major. The company believes this technology will play a key role in developing new energy solutions, the latest being Hywind Tampen where the five oil and gas platforms Snorre A and B, Gullfaks A, B and C will be the first ever powered by a floating offshore wind farm. The wind farm will, with its 11 (8 MW) wind turbines, be the largest floating wind project in the world, covering about 35 per cent of the platforms’ annual power demand. It will reduce annual CO2 emissions by around 200 000 metric tons.
As a technology agnostic developer, Equinor’s choice of substructure and design for floating wind installations will vary depending on local conditions.
Floating wind holds the key to an inexhaustible resource potential.
Today, the technology has reached a tipping point in maturity. A rapid acceleration in growth is being witnessed – like that seen in other wind and renewable technologies. Moreover, costs are coming down quickly. Drivers include project experience, scale effects such as larger turbines, a competitive supply chain, and incremental and disruptive innovation such as optimised substructures and new materials. The levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) for Hywind Tampen, for example, will be around 40 per cent lower than for Hywind Scotland.
Equinor believes floating wind has the potential to become competitive with fixed offshore wind on both cost and installed capacity within the next decade, and onwards. Because floating wind has access to the best wind resources and has less environmental impact and more flexibility than competing renewable resources, the company believes it will be the next wave in renewable energy.
Equinor expects installed capacity of floating offshore wind to reach 10 GW by 2030 and 180 GW by 2050. The key growth markets of Europe and Asia-Pacific will account for roughly 70 GW each, while North America will account for some 30 GW. Key markets in the coming years are expected to be South Korea, Japan, California, Scotland, France, Norway, Spain and Greece