New courses of floating offshore wind

Amidst the global imperatives of decarbonization and bolstering energy security, the green energy sectors, exemplified by offshore wind power, are currently witnessing a robust phase of development.

Eolic plant at coast

Amidst the global imperatives of decarbonization and bolstering energy security, the green energy sectors, exemplified by offshore wind power, are currently witnessing a robust phase of development.

Conventional fixed wind turbines demonstrate practicality only up to depths of approximately 60 meters. Consequently, the prominence of floating offshore wind (FOW) technology becomes imperative, particularly for harnessing the substantial wind energy potential located at greater depths, constituting nearly 80% of the world’s offshore wind resources. With this consideration, the Global Wind Energy Council has undertaken a comprehensive revision of its long-term projections, envisioning a substantial growth trajectory amounting to 28 GW in floating offshore wind capacity by the year 2031. This notable trend is expected to be primarily spearheaded by regions including Europe, North America, and East Asia.

Challenges on the Horizon

To fully unlock this potential, developers in the floating offshore wind sector must navigate a multifaceted landscape of challenges. Foremost among these is the imperative of establishing a dependable supply chain. As wind turbine sizes increase, competition for essential materials becomes increasingly fierce. This challenge is notably pronounced in the steel sector, which has been further strained by the demands of the oil and gas industry, leading to scarcity and rising costs. Additionally, concerns extend to other critical materials such as concrete, mooring line chains, synthetic fibers, and construction facilities. The global sourcing of these materials has resulted in heightened demand for component manufacturing facilities, concurrently intensifying scrutiny of sustainability credentials. Consequently, developers are compelled to meticulously assess the carbon footprint of their supply chain.

Furthermore, developers face the hurdle that floating turbines are currently one and a half to four times more expensive than their fixed counterparts. This necessitates substantial investment to drive growth, exemplified by the recent commitment of £31 million ($39.1 million) from the UK government, complemented by over £30 million in industry funding, dedicated to advancing FOW initiatives in UK waters.

Beyond these considerations, as turbines are deployed in deeper and more challenging maritime environments, specialized design requirements for FOW support vessels emerge as an additional challenge. Operators must also accommodate increased onsite housing for technicians and maintenance personnel, as daily commuting to remote offshore locations becomes impractical.

Bureau Veritas’ Contribution to FOW Sector Growth

Bureau Veritas actively supports the growth of the floating offshore wind (FOW) sector through the issuance of dedicated marine renewable energy (MRE) guidelines and the establishment of the NI 631 verification schemes, which complement the existing IECRE certification schemes for renewable energies.

Bureau Veritas’ international teams of experts offer Approvals in Principle (AiP) and Basic Design Assessments (BDA) to validate FOW designs. Clients benefit from Bureau Veritas’ expertise in various disciplines such as mooring, structural integrity, and seakeeping, ensuring suitability for deployment and adherence to environmental standards. Independent verification of innovative designs is particularly critical as FOW developers navigate diverse local regulations. In its capacity as a trusted third party, Bureau Veritas provides clarity and sets forth a robust global standard.

The suite of certification services offered encompasses assessments of structural integrity for prototypes, demonstrators, and commercial projects across the design, fabrication, installation, and operational phases, guaranteeing materials and equipment adherence to specifications.

Moreover, Bureau Veritas experts are equipped to verify compliance with a diverse array of requirements, spanning environmental regulations, national standards, and rules. For instance, Bureau Veritas has been actively supporting the Provence Grand Large FOW project along the southern coast of France since 2017, certifying adherence to IEC 61400-22 standards covering design, manufacturing, transport, and installation surveillance. As a trusted classification partner for the marine and offshore industry, Bureau Veritas provides specialized services for both floating installations and the requisite specialized vessels.

A Forward-Looking Perspective

Bureau Veritas remains deeply engaged in a range of in-house and cross-industry research and development initiatives. The knowledge garnered from these endeavors informs the establishment of rules and software tools, such as the OPERA tool developed by Bureau Veritas. Collaborative Joint Industry Projects, currently underway with the EU, disseminate knowledge essential for effective regulatory oversight and fostering financial support.

Confronting Challenges, Fostering Trust

The floating offshore wind sector holds immense potential but confronts significant challenges, marking this juncture as pivotal for all stakeholders involved. This emerging technology elicits as many questions as it answers. As a foremost class society on the global stage, Bureau Veritas is steadfast in its commitment to support the sector in surmounting these challenges, facilitating secure and efficient development, while instilling trust in this high-potential technology.

Fact Box: Technical Advisory Consultancy

Bureau Veritas Solutions, a subsidiary within the Marine and Offshore division, is dedicated to assisting clients in surpassing compliance thresholds. Services encompass support in design, technical studies, and risk analysis. The portfolio extends to environmental assessments, project management for platforms, mooring and anchor systems, subsea cables, and deep expertise in marine operations for transport and installation.

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