Full speed for floating, US off and running, and wind-erful Copenhagen

The theme of this week’s FOWT 2021 floating wind power event in France – where Recharge was again proud to act as conference host – was ‘full speed ahead’, and in the last few days alone the sector has again shown it can rise to that challenge.

Equinor has been at the leading edge of floating since it sent the first Hywind demo turbine out to sea in 2009, so there was nobody better to take the pulse of the industry than the Norwegian group’s vice president of floating offshore wind Sonja Chirico Indrebø. She told Recharge in an exclusive interview that 2022 will “move the dial for the sector” as it begins to achieve speed and scale thanks to innovations such as its own Wind Semi concept.

Wind Semi is in the frame for projects such as Equinor’s 3GW alliance with South Korean power group EWP unveiled this week as the two eye massive deployment off the Asian nation.

Equinor wasn’t the only transitioning oil & gas player with big news in floating this week. European peer Shell added to its fast-growing presence off Ireland with a 51% stake in the 1.35GW Western Star project in the Atlantic, again teaming up with developer Simply Blue.

With FOWT underway in Saint Malo, there was a timely update on plans for the historic first dedicated offshore wind tender off Brittany, when developer Ocean Winds and platform designer Principle Power agreed to link-up to bid.

Further afield in one of floating’s most exciting horizons, prospects for up to 3GW of lease sales around Morro Bay in central California moved closer as US officials upgraded the region to a Wind Energy Area designation.

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Morro Bay is just one of the many areas off America’s coasts now being lined up for large-scale offshore wind development as the sector gears up for a decade-long ramp-up chasing Joe Biden’s 30GW target for 2030.

The US industry passed a major milestone this week when a groundbreaking ceremony marked formal start of work on Vineyard 1, at 800MW the nation’s first commercial large-scale project.

The industrial base that will underpin the new-born offshore wind sector is beginning to take shape too, symbolised by the completion of Nexans’ $200m subsea cable plant in South Carolina.

Offshore wind is one of the clean energy sectors set to benefit from the $1trn bipartisan infrastructure bill Biden signed into law this week in another step forward for his green ambitions, which include decarbonising the US power grid by 2035.

Setting that target is already having an impact on the US utility sector, which is accelerating its plans through massive wind and solar procurement rounds like the 4GW spree underway by Oklahoma utility PSO.

The eyes of the wind industry will be on Copenhagen next week as WindEurope holds its Electric City conference and exhibition in the Danish capital.

The event, running from 23-25 November, will span the full range of issues crucial to on- and offshore wind’s continuing role as a leader of the energy transition – policy, technology and finance, plus the new opportunities opened up by hydrogen and corporate power deals.

Recharge is official news provider to the event and is proud to launch Electric City 2021 Live to bring you updates, interviews and analysis from what promises to be a fascinating three days. Visit the dedicated site here for all the latest throughout the week.

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