Taiwan looks to floating offshore wind for renewable energy future

Vyra Wu, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0


As Taiwan strides forward in pursuit of its ambitious clean energy goals, the floating wind energy sector emerges as a promising avenue for renewable energy production. Nevertheless, industry experts suggest that Taiwan's local content requirements may need reevaluation for feasibility, considering the rapid development of new technologies.

The Taiwanese government aims to demonstrate the feasibility of floating offshore wind through demonstration projects in 2027-2028. These projects will inform policies for larger-scale, sustainable floating offshore wind development from 2031 onward, focusing on Taiwan's deeper seas.

Dr. Robin Kennish, Asia Lead of Environmental Resources Management (ERM), emphasizes the importance of Taiwan government support, feasibility studies, and industry engagement in developing floating offshore wind. Long-term planning, risk management throughout the project lifecycle, and stakeholder engagement are crucial elements as well.

Projections indicate that 10 GW of floating offshore wind could be deployed globally by 2030, increasing to 70 GW by 2040, with 30 GW in Asian waters. Asian renewable energy is expected to attract over US$10 trillion in investments by 2050.

Source: ERM
Source: ERM

Comparing Taiwan to other East Asian countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Robin Kennish highlights Taiwan's stricter local content requirements. In contrast, countries like South Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam may not have equally stringent requirements. However, they face unique challenges such as grid readiness and unclear government regulations, increasing risks for developers. On the other hand, the Taiwanese government has provided clear guidelines, offering higher certainty to developers and financial institutions.

Floating offshore wind is positioned as the evolution of offshore wind, unlocking deep-water areas unsuitable for bottom-fixed turbines. Its advantages include access to previously unviable deep areas, lower cumulative impact risks due to developments spread over a wider area, and reduced seabed disruption compared to bottom-fixed foundations.

Floating costs, while higher than fixed-bottom projects, are gradually reducing. Challenges include grid connection in remote areas, port facility requirements, installation and maintenance of subsea infrastructure, and concept consolidation across the supply chain.

Looking ahead, the future forecast for Taiwan's floating offshore wind industry suggests progressive development. Based on ERM's assessment, pre-commercial projects are anticipated in the late 2020s, paving the way for the emergence of utility-scale projects beyond 2030. However, visibility into the industry's trajectory remains challenging, particularly beyond 2025, hinging on the successful scaling and cost reduction demonstrated through demo and pilot projects.

According to the Global Wind Energy Council, the global capacity is projected to reach a staggering 180 GW by 2050, with nearly 80% generated by around 13,000 floating turbine units. "The Taiwan Strait's deep waters and high windspeeds are similar conditions to those in our UK projects. Floating presents an ideal solution to meet Taiwan's 20.6GW of offshore wind by 2035," said a representative from Flotation Energy, a British floating offshore wind power company. Moreover, the ongoing development of new and innovative technologies currently being tested in the UK further underscores the readiness and necessity of floating offshore wind energy in the pursuit of a sustainable energy future.