Total’s First Floating Offshore Wind Project in the UK
Total positions itself on the floating offshore wind segment in line with its strategy to develop renewable energy.
The Group has signed an agreement with the developer Simply Blue Energy (SBE) to acquire 80% stake in the pioneering floating wind project Erebus located in the Celtic Sea, in Wales. The project will have a 96 megawatts capacity and will be installed in an area with water depth of 70 meters. This makes Total one of the first movers in this technology in the UK, the world’s largest offshore wind market.
While offshore wind has so far mainly developed in shallow water depths based on fixed bottom technology, floating wind offshore is set for strong growth in the years to come. This emerging technology has wide potential, opening access to sites further offshore, which have less impact on the landscape, and benefit from very high wind resources.
“With its entry into floating offshore wind, Total confirms its ambition to contribute to the development of renewable energy worldwide. Floating offshore wind is an extremely promising and technical segment where Total brings its extensive expertise in offshore operations & maintenance. Total has the appropriate skills to meet the technological and financial requirements that determine the success of future floating offshore developments,” said Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman & CEO of Total.
Total and Low-Carbon Electricity
Total has integrated climate change into its strategy, and is staying ahead of new energy market trends by building a portfolio of low-carbon businesses that could account for 15 to 20% of its sales by 2040. Total’s gross low-carbon power generation capacity worldwide is currently close to 7 gigawatts, including 3 gigawatts from renewable energies.
In March 2020, Total teamed up with Simply Blue Energy in a JV named Blue Gem Wind, to develop floating wind sites in the Welsh waters of the Celtic Sea. An application was submitted at that time to the Crown Estate for the first demonstration site, the 96MW Erebus Project south of Pembroke Dock where Blue Gem Wind has recently set up a new office. This site and others that are planned to follow will be developed for deployment of Principle Power’s WindFloat® technology with the turbines being chosen during the development process.
SBE as part of Blue Gem Wind has been engaging with the local supply chain around the Celtic Sea to help them be ready to take part in this development. The target commissioning date is for the mid-2020s and will be subject to the availability of suitable revenue support as described in Renewable UK’s recent report Floating Wind, the UK Industry Ambition published in October 2019. SBE was represented on the task force that drew up the report. The opportunity has been given a lift by the launch, on 2nd March 2020, of the government’s consultation on amendments to the CFD scheme which made significant proposals on how it will support this new sector.
A report by the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult focusing on supply chain opportunities produced for the Welsh Government and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership identified that floating offshore wind projects in the Celtic Sea could support 3,200 jobs in south west England and Wales and bring £682m in benefits to the local supply chain by 2030.
A game changer for renewable power
Simply Blue Energy Wind Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Simply Blue Energy Ltd., believes that floating wind farms will be a game changer for renewable power.
The offshore wind industry has moved quickly from a niche technology to a mainstream supplier of low carbon electricity, becoming a favoured form of renewable energy generation. Maintaining future rates of deployment will need to consider alternative methods of deployment to capitalise on Europe’s full offshore wind potential.
Utilisation of floating foundations offer increased flexibility for the siting of turbines, enabling access to locations previously inaccessible due to depth constraints. This gives it a key advantage for accessing areas of higher average wind speeds at optimal spacing, leading to increased yield and capacity factors at a competitive LCOE.
Simply Blue Energy Wind Ltd. undertook a ‘Technology and Commercial Review’ of Floating Offshore Wind Foundations in 2016. This showed floating wind to have matured to a recognised technology, with commercial arrays at various stages of development utilising multiple technologies. Simply Blue Energy has identified Principle Power Inc as a leading developer of this technology, and therefore has partnered with them aiming to identify, tender and develop a number of sites across the UK and Ireland.
80% of Europe’s offshore wind resource is located in waters 60m and deeper. Fixed bottom foundations typically become uneconomical in depths greater than 50 – 60m.
Wind Europe (June 2017) estimate that offshore wind is expected to produce 7% – 11% of the EU’s electricity demand by 2030, but with the potential to provide 80% to 180% at a competitive cost of EUR65/MWh or below. Up to 45% of this is identified as coming from floating wind.
Simply Blue Energy Wind Ltd. is a developer of floating wind projects that will make a valuable contribution to Europe’s electricity demand.