With recent increased investments in wind power, the development of floating offshore wind farms presents the potential to access areas previously unavailable. On floating offshore wind farms,  a wind turbine is attached to a floating structure which is tethered to the sea floor, as opposed to the turbine being a fixed foundation in the sea. This allows the wind turbines to operate in deeper waters.[1]

There are four main floating foundation designs leading the market today. The spar buoy foundation design, which relies on gravity for stability, has a large ballast-stabilized spar. This design is utilized at the world’s first commercial floating wind farm, Hywind Scotland.

Another favored design is the semi-submersible platform, which relies on buoyancy for stability. A 2019 analysis of upcoming projects in the floating offshore wind market showed a vast majority of floating offshore wind farms will be installed on semi-submersible platforms.[2] The two other main designs are the tension-leg platform, which relies on a taut mooring system to provide stability, and a square barge with a damping pool to maintain stability. The type of platform used matters for two reasons. First, developers want a design that is inexpensive to build. Second, the platform’s design determines the depths that can be accessed.

The floating offshore wind market has several advantages, whether it is the availability of untapped energy resources or the additional opportunities for energy companies to participate in the renewable energy sector. The ability to operate in deeper waters allows floating turbines to potentially access the approximately sixty percent of available offshore wind resource in the U.S. that cannot be accessed by fixed-bottom foundation turbines.[3] Also, aside from giving Europe’s oil majors another avenue to help strengthen their position in the renewables sector, floating offshore wind offers an opportunity for less established energy companies and countries to participate in the emerging renewable energy market.

Equinor was the first company to build a commercial-scale floating wind farm, Hywind Scotland, and recently began construction on another floating wind farm in Norway, Hywind Tampen, which is said to be the world’s largest floating offshore wind farm.[4]  Royal Dutch Shell increased its presence in the area through its acquisition of floating wind specialist, Eolfi, in November 2019.[5] Total entered the market in March of this year, and earlier this month procured a twenty percent stake in the Mediterranean Eolmed project. Through these types of acquisitions, oil majors are able to enter and compete in this emerging market.

With many floating offshore wind projects in development, we will likely see more oil majors investing in the area as they seek different ways to reduce their carbon emissions. Click here to read more about different oil majors’ investments in wind energy.

[1] https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/so-what-exactly-floating-offshore-wind

[2]https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/semi-submersible-technology-takes-commanding-early-lead-in-floating-offshor

[3] https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/so-what-exactly-floating-offshore-wind

[4]https://www.offshorewind.biz/2020/10/01/construction-starts-on-worlds-largest-floating-offshore-wind-farm/

[5] https://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/new-energies/new-energies-media-releases/shell-agrees-to-acquire-eolfi.html

Disclaimer: This Blog/Web Site is made available by the law firm of Liskow & Lewis, APLC (“Liskow & Lewis”) and the individual Liskow & Lewis lawyers posting to this site for educational purposes and to give you general information and a general understanding of the law only, not to provide specific legal advice as to an identified problem or issue. By using this blog site you understand and acknowledge that there is no attorney client relationship formed between you and Liskow & Lewis and/or the individual Liskow & Lewis lawyers posting to this site by virtue of your using this site. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state regarding a particular matter.

Privacy Policy: By subscribing to Liskow & Lewis’ E-Communications, you will receive articles and blogs with insight and analysis of legal issues that may impact your industry. Communications include firm news, insights, and events. To receive information from Liskow & Lewis, your information will be kept in a secured contact database. If at any time you would like to unsubscribe, please use the SafeUnsubscribe® link located at the bottom of every email that you receive.

Print:
Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
Photo of Cristian Soler Cristian Soler

Cristian is an energy litigator practicing in the firm’s New Orleans office.

Prior to joining the firm, Cristian served as a judicial extern to U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Bourgeois of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana and to…

Cristian is an energy litigator practicing in the firm’s New Orleans office.

Prior to joining the firm, Cristian served as a judicial extern to U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Bourgeois of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana and to Judge Jay Zainey of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. He also served as a law clerk at the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office.

Photo of Stephen Wiegand Stephen Wiegand

Steve Wiegand’s practice focuses on complex regulatory issues impacting onshore and offshore energy and industrial operations.

In the offshore arena (including the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific), he advises clients on a wide range of regulatory matters, including compliance with operational and…

Steve Wiegand’s practice focuses on complex regulatory issues impacting onshore and offshore energy and industrial operations.

In the offshore arena (including the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific), he advises clients on a wide range of regulatory matters, including compliance with operational and safety requirements, appeals of Incidents of Non-Compliance and civil penalty assessments, incident response and associated agency investigations, lease suspensions, and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit compliance.

Photo of Randee Iles Randee Iles

Randee is an energy litigator practicing in the firm’s Lafayette office.

Prior to joining the firm, Randee served as a student intern for the Louisiana State House of Representatives and as an extern for the Executive Department of the Louisiana Department of Justice…

Randee is an energy litigator practicing in the firm’s Lafayette office.

Prior to joining the firm, Randee served as a student intern for the Louisiana State House of Representatives and as an extern for the Executive Department of the Louisiana Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General. She also served as a Rule XX student attorney for the LSU Law Center: Parole and Reentry Clinic, and as Professor Joseph Bockrath’s research assistant.