18th March 2024

Scotland’s First Minister opens world’s first Floating Wind Innovation Centre in Aberdeen

Scotland’s First Minister, the Rt Hon. Humza Yousaf MSP, will today (Monday 18 March) officially open the world’s first dedicated innovation centre for floating offshore wind.

Located in the heart of Aberdeen’s Energy Transition Zone, ORE Catapult’s £9 million National Floating Wind Innovation Centre (FLOWIC), delivered in collaboration with ETZ Limited, is designed to help supercharge the development of floating offshore wind technology in the UK, with funding from both the Scottish Government and Innovate UK.

Floating offshore wind represents a huge economic opportunity, with more than 19GW of potential projects in the pipeline through the ScotWind Leasing process, a new leasing round on the horizon in the Celtic Sea, and the prospect of transferring skills and knowledge from oil and gas to aid the Just Transition. The INTOG leasing round has also established an opportunity for floating wind to contribute to decarbonising north sea energy production.

Through the successful roll out of this pipeline of activity, industry has estimated that floating offshore wind has the potential to deliver over £43.bn in UK gross value add (GVA) by 2050, and create more than 29,000 jobs.

FLOWIC provides unique facilities for companies to develop and derisk many of the technologies essential to the future success of the sector, with significant demand from industry for use of these services to capitalise on the unrivalled pipeline of floating offshore wind projects in UK waters.

Speaking as he officially opened the centre, First Minister Humza Yousaf said: “Delivering our net zero ambitions will require economic and societal transformation, with sustained investment, both public and private, to achieve it. We know the scale of the change needed. The National Floating Wind Innovation Centre embodies the spirit of collaboration that will drive the offshore wind industry forward.

“FLOWIC also epitomises the relentless pursuit of science in helping to decarbonise our economy and represents a collective determination to solve the complex challenges posed by our net zero ambitions.

“We share a common objective to establish Scotland as a first mover in floating wind technology on an industrial scale and by seizing this advantage we can position Scotland among the world's leaders in this groundbreaking industry as we maximise the opportunities of our Just Transition”

Andrew Jamieson, Chief Executive of the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, said: “This facility represents a groundbreaking step forward in the commercialisation of floating offshore wind – a sector that will be critical to meeting our Net Zero targets.

“When you look at the projected global market demand for floating wind technology over the coming years, the opportunity is eye-watering; dynamic cables alone will be a more than £2bn global market over the next decade. Here in the UK we are well placed to play a leading role in that market by developing the supply chain to support the innovations that will bring this potential to life. Others are chasing the same prize though, so the time is right to make sure Scottish and UK companies are at the front of that race, and this facility is a key part of helping that happen.”

Sir Ian Wood, Chairman of ETZ Ltd, said: “The opening of the world’s first National Floating Wind Innovation Centre in the Energy Transition Zone marks a hugely significant milestone for the North East of Scotland and its ambition to be a global leader in the commercialisation of floating wind. Owing to its world-class oil and gas industry, this region has gained an international reputation for pioneering innovative energy solutions over the last 50 years and the creation of this this ground-breaking centre will help cement that position going forward as we seek to capitalise on the huge opportunities presented by floating offshore wind.

“A massive 17GW of planned floating wind projects are within 100 nautical miles of Aberdeen and this market leading facility will have an internationally recognised capability to reduce the costs of energy from these developments supporting the incubation of new products, services and businesses across the energy sector. We are already seeing a number of supply chain businesses actively transitioning toward offshore wind, creating jobs as they do so, and the operation of this centre will provide greater confidence for them to scale and grow.

“We are grateful to the First Minister for marking the official opening of this facility and for the Scottish Government’s vital funding support to establish it. Of course, today wouldn’t have been possible without our partners at the fantastic ORE Catapult, they share our vision for this region and have acted decisively to ensure this this transformational project has been delivered at pace.”

The array of cutting edge equipment housed in FLOWIC includes:

  • A large-scale dynamic cable flex fatigue rig, designed and built specifically for use in this facility, to test and validate the strength, performance and reliability of dynamic subsea cables – a critical component of floating offshore wind farms.
  • A large-scale anchor test rig to test dynamic anchoring systems - another unique element of floating wind technology.
  • A floating offshore wind scale motion simulator, or Hexapod, capable of providing dynamic testing of scale structures and electrical & mooring connections in a simulated marine environment.
  • A virtual reality studio to allow engineers to envisage scenarios and challenges likely be faced in the build out of future floating wind turbines.

As part of the First Minister’s tour, he will meet with ORE Catapult’s team of in-house experts, along with leading representatives from across the offshore renewable energy sector, and will also hear from locally based supply chain companies on how this facility can help them tap into the potential offered by floating offshore wind.

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