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PO045: How does the accessibility of floating wind farm sites compare to existing fixed bottom sites?
David Rowell, PhD Student, University of Strathclyde
Offshore wind is poised for huge growth in the coming years, the UK government has set targets of 40GW of offshore wind, including 1GW of floating wind, to be installed in the UK by 2030. Many proposed wind development sites are in deeper waters, further from shore and will therefore need to be developed as floating wind sites. Developing sites in deeper waters provides access to higher, more consistent wind speeds, however this also means increased wave heights and tougher operating conditions. This makes the challenge of site accessibility critical to the goal of lowering the costs of offshore wind. Accessibility is the amount of time that vessels can safely access a given site. The objective of this study was to make a comparison of the accessibility of potential future floating wind sites to existing fixed bottom wind farm sites. Accessibility was calculated by developing Matlab code using established techniques and definitions found in the literature. A case study was then completed using sites in Scottish waters proposed for development as part of the Scotwind leasing plan. The majority of the Scotwind sites will need to be developed as floating wind sites due to the greater water depths. This study makes an assessment of the accessibility of the Scotwind leasing sites and compares them to a typical fixed bottom site. The study found that accessibility will be a greater challenge for floating farm wind sites compared to fixed bottom sites. Increased access to vessels that can operate in larger wave heights will likely be necessary to operate and maintain floating wind farm sites successfully. There was also a high variability in accessibility between the Scotwind development sites in different regions. This indicates that some will be more suitable for early development, while others may need access technologies to mature and the supply chain to further develop before they can be developed.