Monthly briefing january 2024

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Wind of opportunity: Floating offshore wind, a new opportunity for England’s South West?

Image credits: Flotation Energy.

Offshore wind is generating more than just power to the UK. The next stage of development, Floating Offshore Wind, has the potential to position the UK and in particular, the South West as a global leader in a pioneering new industry.  

The UK leads the global stage with offshore wind, which makes it an attractive and powerful place for inward and outward investment. Most existing developments are in the shallow waters off the UK East Coast, which has proved ideal for fixed offshore wind. However, the number of suitable locations for fixed offshore wind is limited. To deliver more renewable energy and increase energy security, the development of new technologies in alternative locations is needed.  

Floating offshore wind is the next advancement for offshore wind. Floating offshore wind enables turbines, mounted on floating substructures and anchored to the seabed, to be located in deeper waters, where the winds are stronger and more reliable. Further offshore, the wind turbines have less environmental and visual impact and can generate a lot more power.

Whilst fixed offshore wind is now a well-established industry, a new dawn of floating offshore wind is proposed in the Celtic Sea off the English and Welsh coasts. The Celtic Sea, with its strong winds and deep waters make it an ideal location. The South West will be integral to the successful development of this game-changing technology.

Test and demonstration projects are already in development in the region. White Cross is one of Cobra and Flotation Energy’s flagship Joint Venture projects, which is being developed off the North Devon Coast. A pioneering floating offshore wind farm that’s been designed to trial new floating wind technology in the Celtic Sea area. Its aim is to support future development of offshore wind in the region and help nurture a local supply chain.

Although small in comparison to larger fixed structure projects, White Cross will be pivotal to meeting the 5GW ambition of floating offshore wind for the region in the next decade. It’s intended to be installed ahead of future larger commercial scale projects, to ensure that learnings from design, implementation and operation of the project can be effectively deployed to deliver efficient large-scale projects.

The deployment of floating offshore wind developments will create thousands of UK jobs, as well as generating opportunities across the supply chain and specifically for the South West and Wales. The small and efficient White Cross early development team has been slowly growing over the last couple of years and will grow to an estimated 60 people ahead of the commencement of construction in 2026. The project will also deliver highly skilled jobs to the South West during construction, with some of these roles resulting in long-term employment for the anticipated 25-year + operational phase. The White Cross project is also committed to utilising as many UK based suppliers as practicable during all stages of the development.

Few countries compare globally, with the skills, expertise, and infrastructure that the UK offers for this new and exciting industry.  With extensive transferable UK engineering and technical expertise, as well as the opportunity to train new talent and upskill, there is an abundance of capability and a ready-made supply chain waiting to gear up for these exciting projects.

White Cross is currently progressing through the consenting process both in the offshore and onshore environments to gain approval to begin construction. Further consultation will take place in early 2024 and we would welcome anyone with an interest in the project to engage with us to hear more about our plans. You can find further information, when available, on our website White Cross Offshore Wind – the future of renewable energy.  

If you are interested in supplying White Cross please do get in contact and register your interest via our website White Cross Offshore Wind – Register your interest.