The EDF Group, through its subsidiary EDF Renouvelables, is involved in the development of renewable energies. In 2021, it was one of the European leaders in renewable energies with 34.8 GW of installed capacity, including 9 GW of wind power.

The EDF Group wants to accelerate the development of renewables to achieve Net Zero more quickly and is particularly interested in floating wind power as a growth relay through concrete projects under development with EDF Renewables. EDF Pulse Ventures has just carried out a deep dive to draw up an inventory of innovative solutions that have a significant impact on the competitiveness of floating wind projects, and to identify the most promising startups in this field.

EDF wants to develop floating offshore wind

Today, there are two types of wind farms: onshore and offshore. Offshore wind farms have been developed over the past few years because they can capture stronger and more regular winds than on land (thus improving the load factor of the wind turbines). This new wind resource has posed significant technical challenges that needed to be overcome: construction of larger and more powerful wind turbines, new foundation technologies, innovative maintenance solutions, etc.

Most of the current offshore wind farms are located close to the coast and the foundations of the wind turbines are fixed to the seabed (bottom-fixed foundations). This type of wind farm can only be installed in shallow areas, at a maximum of 50 to 60 meters.

However, the farther away from the coast, the stronger is the wind, and therefore the greater the potential for energy production. That’s where floating wind power becomes interesting. Those technologies allow wind turbines to float without being fixed to the seabed, thus making it possible to build offshore wind farms in very deep areas. The challenges for floating offshore wind are even greater than for fixed offshore wind and require innovative solutions for projects to succeed.

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Floating offshore wind: an increasingly mature market

According to a study conducted by BVG Associates for EDF Pulse Ventures, floating offshore wind could produce three times more renewable energy than bottom-fixed offshore wind. This potential explains the enthusiasm of governments, energy companies and startups for this technology, which sees a growing number of projects materializing.

According to the same study, the installed capacity of floating offshore wind could reach 20 GW by 2032 and exceed 40 GW by 2035. Europe, the US and Asia are the most involved regions in the development of this renewable energy and BVG Associates estimates that 3.4 GW of capacity could be installed in France by 2035 and 5 GW in the UK.

4 main areas for developing floating wind power

It is not enough to have sites and projects to develop floating wind energy – mature and scalable technologies are also needed. Building competitive floating wind farms requires to have relevant solutions across the entire value chain, which is why EDF Pulse Ventures focused on 4 different aspects during its deep dive, which are particularly important for the performance and the competitiveness of floating offshore wind:

  • 1

    Floater design

    Ces derniers doivent être suffisamment solides pour permettre aux éoliennes de flotter, tout en étant légers pour limiter le coût de fabrication.

  • 2

    Installation of wind turbines at sea

    Transporter d’immenses éoliennes à plusieurs kilomètres des côtes et les installer de manière sécurisée en pleine mer est un véritable défi.

  • 3

    Operations and maintenance of wind turbines

    The location of future wind farms will make it difficult for technicians to inspect them on a regular basis. Reliable and secure remote inspection technologies, such as drones or underwater robots, are required.

  • 4

    Components and systems

    De nouvelles technologies sont nécessaires afin de pouvoir connecter les éoliennes en mer, le tout à plusieurs kilomètres des côtes.

30 startups to follow in the floating offshore wind sector

EDF Pulse Ventures has identified, among hundreds of startups, 30 of them particularly promising and innovative to address these different issues and allow the development of floating wind energy.

Infographic: Floatting Offshore Wind Innovative Startups - Details above.

You are a start-up developing solutions in floating offshore wind?