Multi-million pound investment for Welsh floating wind farm projects

Credit: Marine Power Systems

Offshore wind energy has long been considered one of the most crucial components of our green future - harnessing electricity from giant turbines at sea.

The world's first full-scale floating wind farm opened in Scotland in 2017.

Today more than £6 million pounds of funding for floating offshore wind projects in Wales has been announced by the UK Government. 

The main difference is that these turbines, rather than being fixed directly to the ground or seabed, are placed on floating platforms. Credit: Marine Power Systems

Britain is already home to some of the world's largest offshore wind farms, but floating turbines, rather than those fixed to the seabed, can boost energy capacity even further.

Speaking to ITV News, Jess Hooper, Programme Manager at Marine Energy Wales, says the potential in Wales is huge.

"Floating wind is going to become a key global technology", she said.

"We're going to see the electrification of everything, and that electricity has to come from somewhere. Anything that goes some way to support these technologies in coming forward faster has got to be recognised."

She continued, "because of the nature of floating wind we’re essentially seeking deeper waters where it’s windiest, and where you have less disruption to that wind."

"So you’re increasingly going further and further offshore, which means they’re less and less visible from our shores which for many is a key advantage, because some people don’t like the visual impact that you get from wind turbines."

The technology behind floating offshore wind projects is similar to that of ordinary, well understood turbines - wind pushes the blades, causing a rotor to turn, which then drives a generator. 

The main difference is that these turbines, rather than being fixed directly to the ground or seabed, are placed on floating platforms. 

It allows more flexibility, and means wind farms can be situated in deep-sea areas where wind strengths are at their highest and most productive.

Swansea-based company Marine Power Systems is one of the projects to benefit from today's funding announcement. The business is in the stages of developing a floating platform for a turbine.

CGI images show how floating offshore wind farms could look Credit: Marine Power Systems

"Floating offshore wind is a game changer for this sector", said the company's CEO Gareth Stockman.

"Currently all wind turbines offshore are fixed, but 80% of the global resource is in deep-water areas, and that's where floating platforms come in."

"You can install a wind turbine on it and it opens up these huge areas off our coastline, in the Celtic Sea here in Wales there's huge opportunities."

More than £31m in total has been pledged by the UK Government, which the industry says shows great commitment.

The funding will be matched by more than £30m of industry funding, with projects in Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland benefitting.

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said:

“This is fantastic news for businesses in Wales who are working in this expanding sector. The investment from the UK Government will enable them to go further and get there faster, ensuring Wales is at the forefront of floating offshore wind.

“This is exactly the growth that I want to see in Wales – creating highly skilled and well-paid jobs in green technology – helping us reach our net zero target whilst also benefitting our economy.