The government’s British Energy Security Strategy published earlier this year has raised the UK’s floating offshore wind target from 1 gigawatt to 5 by 2030. Floating offshore wind (FLOW) entails turbines being placed on platforms anchored to the seabed in deeper, windier stretches of sea which are inaccessible for fixed offshore wind turbines that need to be put straight into the seabed.
At the moment, FLOW is mostly concentrated in Scottish demonstrator projects. With the South West and Wales uniquely positioned as ‘one of the best offshore wind and wave climates in Europe’, there are multiple plans in the works to bring FLOW down to us by the Celtic Sea. The most exciting among these is the TwinHub project off the coast of Hayle, Cornwall.
TwinHub has developed a new design which places two turbines on one platform. The technology gets twice the bang for its buck, and this offshore wind farm will produce more energy while taking up comparatively less space. The project will take advantage of pre-existing arrangements and infrastructure built around a previous project, minimising disruption and slashing the amount of time it will take to get online.
By 2025, the wind farm will be up and generating enough electricity to power 45,000 homes. Gas prices are expected to remain high for years yet, so it’s vital we bring on more cheap, secure, clean power as soon as we can. TwinHub will contribute 30-40 megawatts of renewable electricity, helping to secure our energy supplies, bring our household bills back under control, and begin scaling up the Celtic Sea wind industry.
Local communities will also benefit directly. The assets on the site used for a previous energy project were sold for £2.4 million by Cornwall Council, which can be reinvested into local projects. But that’s nothing compared to the wider opportunity that FLOW presents. Celtic Sea floating wind will create over 1,500 skilled jobs, with £900 million headed for the regional economy by 2030 based on current projections. More frequent seabed leasing rounds can leverage yet more investment, faster.
But we need big port upgrades to build these floating wind farms. Falmouth Harbour, one of the deepest ports in the world, is ideally positioned to become an integration port, where turbines will be put together there before being towed out to sea. This would foster development across the South West of robust supply chains, a strong network of experienced project developers, and a wealth of skills and experience.
Falmouth should receive its share of the £160 million FLOW manufacturing investment scheme to unlock wider private sector investment into the Celtic Sea. North Sea ports already have the necessary infrastructure to be competitive due to their historic energy industry. If Celtic Sea ports like Falmouth aren’t upgraded, we risk only utilising just one sea rather than two. Planning regulations should also be streamlined to hasten upgrades.
The Crown Estate has announced a target of 4GW of FLOW in the Celtic Sea by 2035, enough to power almost 4 million homes. Cornwall has a rich and proud maritime and industrial history which has been neglected for several decades. It’s time to invest in Falmouth Harbour, build TwinHub, and ensure there are high-skilled, well-paid careers for Cornish young people. Cornwall can and will be at the heart of this green industrial revolution.
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