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The floating dragon: the potential of offshore wind power for Wales.


Sian Lloyd-Rees, UK Managing Director for Mainstream Renewable Power

There is an extraordinary 70GW opportunity in the Celtic Sea for floating offshore wind. We are on the cusp of an exciting era of large-scale deep-water floating deployment in the seas around the UK, and Wales is set to play a significant role in this.


Wind energy could support the electrification and decarbonisation ambition of the nation. However, at present, it is a stranded energy source. Floating offshore wind, with its ability to be deployed at great depths, is the way to harness this power.


RenewableUK Cymru's Future Energy Wales conference this week is therefore a timely opportunity to discuss what Wales needs to do to become a net zero nation and energy exporter. It comes shortly after the Crown Estate outlined a new leasing opportunity in the Celtic Sea for the first generation of commercial-scale floating offshore windfarms – unlocking up to 4GW by 2035.


As well as providing an opportunity to make Wales a net zero nation, this will also deliver a huge industrial boost for the country. Largescale projects in the Celtic Sea offer an opportunity for supply chain capability to be developed in the short term, and getting this right is key to Wales getting the maximum benefit from floating offshore wind.


For a ‘just transition’ we need to support existing and new companies to understand the potential which a transition can afford them. If we look at the oil and gas industry supply chain, for example, the skills exist in floating units, subsea structures, and power management, as well as in gas management and transportation skills which are relevant to the growing hydrogen economy.


So, we have the capability and skills in the UK, but in order to grow and expand these we need to provide the supply chain with confidence in the size of the future renewable market.


I look forward to discussing this with fellow panellists at the first event on the #FutureEnergyWales programme on the morning of Wednesday 9th November.


Mainstream is committed to helping countries reach their net zero targets by accelerating the deployment of floating offshore wind, including in Wales. There is massive potential to invest in jobs, skills and infrastructure benefiting the communities neighbouring the Celtic Sea. We are ready to seize the opportunity.


Mainstream Renewable Power is planning to participate in the Celtic Sea leasing round as part of our ambition to become one of the world’s first pure-play renewable energy majors.

Our recent combination with Aker Offshore Wind has created a new global frontrunner in floating offshore wind.


Together, our complementary capabilities bring technology and development experience to enable opportunities for scale and improved access to financing to deliver bigger projects, in deeper waters, in more markets worldwide.


Already, we have developed close to 20 per cent of the UK’s offshore wind capacity in construction and operation - including the world’s largest offshore wind farm in operation today, Hornsea 2 (1.4 GW), on the east coast of England. And the Aker group of companies’ track record in the offshore sector includes development of over half of all semi-submersible platforms in the world.


The floating offshore wind market is projected to grow rapidly in the coming years, as several countries have launched ambitious targets to develop gigawatts of wind energy, with up to 80 percent of offshore wind resources located at water depths only suitable for floating foundations.


Mainstream is actively developing floating offshore wind projects in Scotland (1.8 GW) and South Korea (1.2 GW). In addition, we are exploring floating wind opportunities in numerous other markets, including Ireland, Norway, the United States, Sweden and Japan.


Mainstream is committed to helping countries reach their net zero targets by accelerating the deployment of floating offshore wind, including in Wales. There is massive potential to invest in jobs, skills and infrastructure benefiting the communities neighbouring the Celtic Sea. We are ready to seize the opportunity.


By Sian Lloyd-Rees,

UK Managing Director for Mainstream Renewable Power,

Co-chair of Offshore Energy UK (OEUK) and the Industry Supply Chain Champion supporting the delivery of the North Sea transition deal.

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