Chris Willow, Head of Floating Wind at RWE, discusses how collaboration and shared learning can help facilitate the deployment of floating wind across the UK.
RWE has been a leading developer of offshore wind for more than 20 years. Over those two decades, we have been at the forefront of offshore wind education and myth-busting. We have provided insight to politicians, communities, our supply chain, and other key stakeholders, so that we can work more effectively with them to boost the UK’s renewable energy generation capacity and meet our net zero ambitions.
Understanding and collaboration
The development of an offshore wind farm is not carried out in a vacuum. As a developer, we can’t design and build a project without working closely with national and regional stakeholders. Our role as an industry leader is to understand the challenges facing these stakeholders and work with them to get to the heart of the issues they raise. Then, we can collaboratively develop tangible solutions to overcome hurdles.
This approach has helped us dispel many myths about offshore wind, and over the last 20 years, we have fostered support for many projects. Offshore wind is no longer regarded as a thorn in the side of communities. Support has been built through listening, understanding, and collaborative working. In the past, the industry faced an onslaught of negative press and commentary. Today, the narrative has shifted and the UK is hungry for quicker and faster development.
Telling the story of offshore wind today means discussing floating wind projects with our stakeholders. Floating wind is the next step in our pursuit of clean, renewable energy as it means we can deploy projects in much greater water depths than before.
Floating wind is an evolution of seabed-fixed offshore wind with many similarities, but there are also important differences that need to be considered and discussed. We must work with all our partners to develop understanding in communities, political circles, and within the supply chain.
This is why we have launched our floating wind educational hub, designed to make learning about floating wind easier and accessible to all. Our virtual classroom provides digestible explanations about the components of floating wind platforms and the engineering solutions that allow them to function in deep water. The classroom provides videos and graphics to make learning about floating wind an engaging and interactive experience.
We’re committed to explaining floating wind technology in language that is both accurate and accessible.
Time to act
This kind of approach is needed because we don’t actually have long to build this understanding and buy-in. Policy frameworks take time to come together and it is already clear that we can expect a number of floating wind projects to progress at pace throughout the 2020s in Scotland and the Celtic Sea.
As an industry leader, we want to ensure that mistakes aren’t made, and that we deliver at pace to meet the challenges facing the UK’s energy market head-on. The industry needs to work as a team to build understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the sector.
There is a proverb "It takes a village to raise a child", and it is also true that it takes a whole ecosystem of organisations working together to get a commercial-scale floating wind project built. By sharing our knowledge through our virtual classroom, we hope we can get all our partners ready to accelerate the process of delivering the next generation of floating wind technology off the UK’s shores.
To visit RWE’s floating wind virtual classroom, click here.