Walk before you run

Posted on by SamW

Cian Conroy, Head of Development for the UK & Ireland, discusses the need for test and demonstration sites in the UK.

At SBM we know what it takes to work offshore, to build structures in deep water and harsh environments and to manage a global supply chain. We are a company with more than 7,000 staff worldwide committed to sharing their experience to deliver safe, sustainable and affordable energy from the oceans for generations to come.

That’s why in 2021 we established Floventis Energy with our partners Cierco to accelerate the deployment of floating wind in the UK. Using our experience of designing, building, installing and operating offshore, along with Cierco’s track record in permitting and consenting we have been working to bring forward two 100MW floating wind in the Celtic Sea, Llŷr 1&2. These projects collectively represent 20% of the UK Governments targets for floating wind and aim to be at the vanguard of floating wind in the Celtic Sea’s 4GW build out.

Having worked in the floating wind sector since 2014 it is amazing to witness the strides we have made as a sector, from what was once seen as a niche R&D exercise to now being recognised as part of the UK’s future energy mix. But this recognition  has led some to ask why we still require 100MW projects – with the Scotwind and Round 5 announcements it is easy to think that T&D is no longer required. In reality though we have seen in recent weeks a greater need for these projects, to de-risk technology, provide confidence to the supply chain, and enable cost certainties in competitive auction rounds.

Since the first 2 MW demo project installed in 2009 we still only have three different technology types in the water for a commercial arrays (Hywind’s Spar, PPI’s semi, and SBM’s TLP). Whilst this is an enormous success to be celebrated, we need to be mindful of the recent challenges demonstrated by the AR5 auction results, where misalignment between the supply chain and Government expectations on costs saw no offshore wind projects proceed.

Before we make the leap to GW scale projects in the Celtic Sea we need to give the supply chain a chance to learn and expand into this new sector.

That is why the Llŷr projects with our supply chain programmes like FIT4OR  will give the ports and supply chain a chance. The opportunities that floating wind brings to the to the UK are enormous, but there needs to be a strategy to realise this – all parts of Government, regulators and NGOs need to appreciate the urgency and benefits of working together….and to borrow a quote from a large car manufacturer from this week we need to maintain ambition, commitment and consistency.