An offshore windfarm is a collection of wind turbines. Each wind turbine is either fixed directly to the seabed or is attached to a floating foundation on the surface, which is then anchored in position. Wind forces cause the turbine blades to rotate creating large amounts of electricity which is then transferred to shore via a subsea cable. From there the electricity can be used, for example, to power homes, businesses, and transport around the country, or even exported abroad.
The UK Government’s Offshore Wind Sector Deal (2020) outlines the requirement for offshore wind to contribute up to 40 GW on generating capacity by 2030 to meet our climate change targets, with further capacity required in the subsequent years. Offshore wind is the only renewable energy source with sufficient scale to address our climate change targets and reduce our carbon emissions.
Wind conditions offshore are much more favourable than on land with a stronger and more consistent wind resource. In addition, taller turbines can be used offshore allowing a single turbine to generate as much energy as three or even four onshore turbines. Floating offshore wind technology allows turbines to be located further from shore, in waters too deep to make fixed bottom alternatives economically viable, further minimising visual impacts.
Floating offshore wind projects involve developing an array of offshore turbines supported on floating substructures that are moored and anchored to the seabed. The turbines generate electricity which is typically fed back to shore via an export cable. However, alternate uses of the power generated is also being considered.
With the development of more offshore wind farms, additional investment in technology and the supply chain is allowing the cost of generating this energy to decrease rapidly. In the UK, offshore wind energy is now cheaper than nuclear, and nearly as cheap as gas powered generation. As the market grows in Scotland, it is expected that energy costs will fall significantly.
Floating wind turbines can be deployed in varying water depths due to the flexible design that can utilise a keel or spar arrangement depending on the water depths or sea condition requirements (OWC report 2020 commissioned by Simply Blue Energy). There are currently several types of different floating turbine technologies (see below). The floating units are secured to the seabed via a mooring arrangement connected to several anchor points. The mooring and anchor system is designed to resist the wave loading that the structure experiences from the surrounding environment.
(Source:Eirwind – Kandrot et al., 2019)
Comprehensive studies are undertaken during the design of offshore energy installations to understand historic and future weather patterns. Offshore wind farms are designed, constructed, and operated in consideration of extreme weather events and operational ranges of the devices.
Simply Blue Energy is an independent Irish offshore renewable energy developer, headquartered in Cork, Ireland. Simply Blue Energy has a proven track record in offshore renewable energy development in both the UK and Ireland. Find out more here. Simply Blue Energy’s mission is to “raise awareness of the oceans’ potential, pioneer marine project development and collaborate with partners to build a sustainable blue economy and communities”.
Simply Blue Energy was established in 2011 and has assembled an experienced board and executive team for the purposes of developing both offshore wind and wave energy farms. Simply Blue Energy are currently developing floating offshore wind development projects in a number of geographies and hit a significant milestone in March 2020 by securing a major Joint Venture partner, Total, to develop floating wind sites in the Welsh waters of the Celtic Sea. An application to the Crown Estate was successful in securing seabed rights for the first demonstration site, the 96 MW Erebus Project southwest of Pembroke Dock. Erebus will potentially be the largest floating wind farm in the globe in the latter stage of this decade. This was followed by Valorous, a 300 MW project for which the Scoping Report was submitted in March 2021.
In July 2020, Simply Blue Energy announced Emerald, another floating offshore wind project off the south coast of Cork in the vicinity of the Kinsale gas platform which is currently being decommissioned. This project envisions the transformation of the maritime landscape in the area of the Kinsale gas platform into a zone for the production of clean, renewable offshore wind energy. The Emerald project is currently progressing through early planning stages. Find out more here.
Simply Blue Energy has a strong entrepreneurial and innovative spirit and we believe floating wind will be the main technology going forward in offshore wind post 2030, given at least 80% of Europe’s offshore wind resource is located in waters of 60 m or deeper.
Furthermore, we have a strong ethos of stakeholder engagement and initial discussions in some markets have identified several challenges for the fixed offshore wind projects, including the intrusive visual impacts that may be experienced from nearshore sites.
Based on the aforementioned reasons, Simply Blue Energy made the decision to focus on being the leading developer of floating wind projects. Click here to view representative visualisations simulating how a project such as the Salamander project may look from shore.
Simply Blue Energy hopes to commence the site investigations necessary to inform the engineering design of the project and to feed into the Environmental Impact Assessment in 2021. These investigations will take place over a number of years. A Marine License application will be filed in due course. With regards to construction work, this is not expected until at least 2026.
Simply Blue Energy have pioneered a stepping-stone approach in the Celtic Sea with the Erebus and Valorous projects. The stepping-stone approach follows the successful cost reduction that happened in fixed offshore wind over the last 10 years where small projects (with tens of turbines) were initially developed and lead more recently to bigger projects of more than 100 turbines. Given floating wind is still at the early stages of development, we believe it is important to develop projects in the hundreds of MWs scale first (tens of turbines) in order reduce the technology risk, achieve the necessary cost reductions for commercial projects, and above all give the opportunity to the local supply chain to gear up and be ready for the later commercial opportunities.
Specifically to Scotland, previous projects have not yielded the expected supply chain benefits, therefore, there is a need of pre-commercial stepping-stone projects prior to delivery of ScotWind projects. The Salamander project aims to bridge the development gap between the current operational floating wind projects and ScotWind projects in order to reduce the technology risks of novel floating wind technologies as well as giving an opportunity to the local supply chain to develop.
The largest turbine currently constructed is the 12 MW machine developed by General Electric (see image below for scale), however considering the timeline for this project, it is likely that the turbines installed here will be in the 15-20 MW range. These will have a rotor diameter of several hundred meters with 15 MW turbines expected to be c. 275m in height.
Currently, an offshore wind turbine would be expected to have an operating life of approximately 20-25 years depending on the model, weather, and sea conditions. The lifetime of this project is unknown however it is likely the turbines will be on site until the mid-2050s.
Simply Blue Energy is fully committed to continually engaging with stakeholders and local communities from a very early stage to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and respected right through the process. A wide range of stakeholders has already been consulted in the initial site selection that was carried out in 2020. Additionally, a wide range of stakeholders will be consulted throughout the scoping and EIA phases of the project including fishers, shipping organisations, local community groups, recreational marine users, environmental groups, and government agencies. If you want to communicate with the project team please email email@example.com
The sites available for the ScotWind leasing round were identified in the Final Scottish Marine Sectorial Plan (Plan Options) published in October 2020. The Salamander team believes these sites would suit commercial developments (>500 MW) however they would not be suitable for pre-commercial developments. Pre-commercial stepping-stone developments have unique characteristics (small size) but they still need to be competitive from an economic point of view on CfD rounds. Therefore, it is essential that these sites are reasonably close to a potential grid connection (with headroom available in the project timeline) as well as good met-ocean and bathymetric conditions, and no red flags from a consenting point of view.
The Salamander project site, off the east coast of Scotland, was chosen after a thorough desk-based assessment of wind resource, grid connection, environmental sensitivities and seabed characteristics, among many other considerations. This site selection step took into account the views of different stakeholders with whom we consulted early in our development process. The use of floating wind technology allows this development to be located far from shore, minimising visual impacts and disruption to local communities, in waters too deep to make fixed bottom alternatives economically viable.
The Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy, published in October 2020, identified a potential route for leasing outside of ScotWind for pre-commercial stepping-stone projects aimed at both innovative projects and projects that support the decarbonisation of the oil and gas sector. The Salamander project team is confident that once these routes are defined by Crown Estate Scotland in due course, the Salamander project will be able to engage in the resultant leasing activities to secure seabed rights.
Please follow these links if you would like more information about the Salamander project or Simply Blue Energy. For any additional queries, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Simply Blue Energy recognise the importance of engaging as early as possible with the local fishing community to aid coexistence between the offshore wind and fishing industry where possible. Early engagement with fisheries industry representatives fed into the site selection process of the project, and design options to accommodate the feedback received so far are being explored.
The Project is committed to continuing fishing stakeholder engagement for the duration of the application, and consultation will be a key information source for the EIA. The project will appoint a company FLO prior to consultation who will be the main point of contact for fisheries stakeholders. Notices to Mariners will be distributed prior to any works on site, and where applicable, guard vessels and a FLO will be offshore during any works. This information and other relevant mitigation measures will be detailed in the project Fisheries Management and Mitigation Strategy. Simply Blue Energy would welcome further feedback from fisheries stakeholders. Details on Pre-Application Consultation events will be published in due course. In the meantime, please contact us at
email@example.com. with any queries.
Cable installation and burial methods will be informed by geotechnical investigations and confirmed when the installation contractor has been engaged, but these are likely to involve a variety of methods such as jetting, trenching and ploughing.
As much as is possible, cables will be buried. Where burial is not achieved additional protection measures such as rock placement or mattressing will be considered. Further information on installation and burial methods will be made available in the application and consent plans, including the Cable Plans and Construction Method Statement.
Any activity in the marine space has the potential to impact on seabirds and other marine life. The project will be designed to minimise the impact on wildlife and will follow best practice established through years of post-development monitoring, observations and research. The development will be subject to a full Environmental Impact Assessment and Appropriate Assessment as it progresses through the planning process. Simply Blue Energy will undertake a robust environmental risk management and mitigation process, including implementing any measures that have been proven to be effective where there is a real risk to the environment.