Author InfoLink
Updated March 29, 2021

Despite the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, 6.07 GW of wind energy capacity was installed globally in 2020, a substantial volume. Europe is by far the leader in offshore wind power, with 50-60% of the world’s capacity. However, Asia is expected to catch up with Europe in 2025, boosting their share of the offshore wind market significantly. Global wind power will see accelerating growth from 2025 onwards and flourish rapidly in 2030. Of the global installed base, the Asian offshore wind market is forecast to account for 76% of the share.

Floating wind turbines have not yet fully developed internationally, comparing to the relatively mature technology of fixed foundation turbines. By January 2021, less than 20 floating wind turbines were installed worldwide, including Europe.

According to data from the European Maritime Day in 2018, about 60-80% of the ocean’s potential for offshore wind is in deep waters more than 60 meters deep. Deep waters in Europe, for example, is estimated to have 4,000 GW of potential offshore wind power, while Taiwan could reach 90 GW. To secure position in the wind power industry, countries in Asia have all set goals for floating wind. South Korea has planned to develop floating wind farms with at least 4.6 GW of capacity by 2030, while Japan has adopted floating foundation turbine technology for its first auction project, the Goto Island floating wind farm.

The Taiwan Offshore Wind Industry Association (TOWIA), an alliance of eight major offshore wind farm developers, was officially established on March 30 to help develop the industry. The new association comprises Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP,) JERA Energy Taiwan, Macquarie’s Green Investment Group, Taiwan Northland Power Development (NPI,) Ørsted, Swancor Renewable Energy (SRE,) wpd, and Yushan Energy.

Marina Hsu, chairman of TOWIA and the managing director of CIP, reiterated that regulations for Phase 3 zonal development should include floating wind turbines and goals to build pilot floating wind farms, and proposed two to three advanced 100 MW pilot plans. Given current technology, to reach the 10 GW of additional offshore wind capacity set for the next 10-year period, floating foundation turbines would be indispensable, said Lucas Lin, CEO of SRE.

Phase 3 will focus on deeper areas, as developable nearshore wind resources gradually reduce and concerns for environmental protection and local fishing industry emerge. Since Taiwan is given five to seven months of time only for underwater foundation construction each year due to the climate, the commissioning time will delay if the assembly crew miss the construction time. Unlike conventional concrete bases, floating wind turbines and semi-submersible platforms can be constructed in port and then transported to the offshore wind sites.

A floating foundation turbine is mounted on semi-submersible platform, which takes inspirations from fixed foundation and oil drilling platform technology. Today, the wind power sector sees great heterogeneity in the development of floating foundation turbines. Some underwater foundation manufacturers in Taiwan have started developing floating platforms in collaboration with developers. Some developers that participate in Phase 3 zonal development also announced to use floating wind turbines.

However, as the floating platform is two to three times bigger than the fixed foundation in size and it requires bigger space for turbine assembly, whether the port has enough capacity, and the government could provide related applications play a key role in the development.

Government policies in the renewable energy industry determine market prospects. For floating foundation turbine technology to be implemented in Taiwan, it also acquires encouragements from the government and technical supports from the local supply chain. The Taiwanese government aims at sourcing 20% of electricity from renewables by 2025 and net-zero emission by 2050. If Taiwan can get ahead of the game both in terms of time and technology maturity, coupling with supportive policies and their actual supports for the industry, it would be more likely for Taiwan to march into the global market, and thus become more competitive in the offshore wind power.

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