FPSO Giant SBM Offshore Wins Seabed Rights for UK Floating Wind Project

Illustration - Copyright SBM Offshore
Illustration - Copyright SBM Offshore

SBM Offshore, one of the world's largest FPSO leasing firms in the oil and gas sector, has, via a joint venture, moved a step closer towards securing rights for a floating wind farm project in the Celtic Sea, off the coast of Wales in the UK.

The UK Crown Estate has announced intent to grant seabed rights for two 100MW floating wind test and demonstration sites (Llŷr 1 and Llŷr 2) in the Celtic Sea to Floventis Energy, a joint venture between SBM Offshore and renewables firm Cieco. 

The seabed lease grant is subject to Habitats Regulations Assessment, to assess possible impacts on protected marine habitats. Subject to the outcome of this plan-level HRA, the applicants could then be granted seabed agreements for lease.

After that, the Llŷr project will progress with environmental assessments and surveys.

"[Floventis Energy] seeks to secure seabed rights and relevant permits before implementing state-of-the-art technologies for floating offshore wind activities, helping to stimulate infrastructure investment, reduce costs and develop supply chain in what will be one of the key UK markets for floating offshore wind," SBM Offshore said.

Severine Baudic, SBM Offshore New Energies and Services Managing Director, said: “We are very proud of this first key milestone achieved with Cierco through our joint venture Floventis Energy. Our partnership will benefit from the combined expertise of Cierco in project development and SBM Offshore in floating offshore projects. Together, we have the ambition to stimulate and accelerate the floating wind market while building track-record and local presence.” 

Mikael Jakobsson, Chairman of Cierco Ltd, added “We are very pleased to reach this first milestone for Floventis Energy, which materializes the strong partnership we established with SBM Offshore with the objective to develop competitive and sustainable floating wind projects.

The Llŷr development comprises two offshore sites, with a capacity of 100 MW each, south of Pembroke, Wales, UK, in waters of between 60 and 70m deep. The two sites will offer an opportunity to test and demonstrate innovative floating wind technologies, enabling the build-up of the floating wind supply chain.

Worth noting, while SBM Offshore is best known for its FPSO business, it is not exactly a total newcomer to the floating wind space.

A few years back the company won a deal with EDF Renouvelables for the engineering, procurement, construction and installation of three floating units and its mooring system, for offshore wind turbines with a total capacity of 25.2 MW. 

The units will be deployed offshore Marseille, France for the project Provence Grand Large. According to available Info, the installation in France could be expected in 2022.

100MW Whitecross project

Back to Wales. Apart from the intent to grant seabed rights to Floventis Energy, the Crown Estate gave green light to Offshore Wind Limited, a Joint Venture between Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios, S.A. and Flotation Energy plc, for the 100MW Whitecross project, located off the coast of Devon and Cornwall. B 

The three projects would each test new foundation and mooring technologies, using new designs, materials and construction approaches. They also could play an important role in supporting the development and momentum of the regional supply chain, helping support new jobs, skills and economic growth, the Crown Estate said.

"Subject to HRA, these three new projects, together with the wider UK pipeline and any potential floating wind capacity identified through the ongoing Scotwind leasing process, could play an important role in supporting the Government’s target to deliver 1GW of floating wind capacity in UK waters by 2030," the Crown Estate added.

Furthermore, together with Blue Gem’s Erebus project and TwinHub’s project at the WaveHub site, these projects could quadruple the capacity of the floating wind pipeline in the Celtic Sea alone, to over 400MW. For context, a total of approximately 130MW of floating wind is currently installed globally, including Grupo Cobra's Kincardine project in Scotland.

'The more floating wind we install, the cheaper it will become'

Huub den Rooijen, Managing Director of The Crown Estate’s Marine portfolio said“Innovative projects like these represent a vital step towards the UK’s ambitions to develop floating wind at a commercial scale. Not only do they help support the commercialization of the market while bringing down costs, they are key to testing new designs, materials and construction methods while creating new opportunities for the regional supply chain. “This sort of new technology will have an important role to play as the UK transitions to Net Zero, helping unlock new energy capacity, while potentially helping to reduce the impact on the marine environment.”

RenewableUK's Director of Future Electricity Systems Barnaby Wharton said: "Projects like these have the potential to build on the success of our world-leading floating wind farms already generating in Scottish waters. They can stimulate further investment in the UK supply chain for floating wind, manufacturing state-of-the-art technology not only for projects here but also for the global market which is expected to be worth at least £230m a year by 2031 to UK exporters.

"And the more floating wind we install in British waters, the cheaper it will become; this innovative technology can repeat the success of fixed-foundation offshore wind by becoming subsidy-free within a decade."

To further support the development of the floating offshore wind sector beyond Test & Demonstration scale, The Crown Estate is also continuing its work (announced in March) to design a new leasing opportunity for early commercial-scale floating wind projects in the Celtic Sea. This will focus on projects of circa 300MW each in scale – up to 3 times larger than any rights previously awarded to floating wind projects in the UK – further advancing the Government’s ambition to deliver 1GW of floating wind by 2030, the Crown Estate said.

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