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UK and US to reach floating wind turbines agreement

Floating wind turbines are to be the initial focus of a new agreement between Britain and the United States struck this week.

The move is part of international talks in London to accelerate the deployment of clean energy technologies.

Energy ministers from 23 of the world’s leading economies will gather in London on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss accelerating the transition to clean energy technologies.

The Clean Energy Ministerial will be co-chaired by UK energy secretary Edward Davey and US energy secretary Steven Chu.

Alongside the talks, Mr Davey will sign a number of bilateral agreements with counterparts from other governments to work in collaboration over the coming years.

The UK and US will agree to collaborate in the development of floating wind technology designed to generate power in deep waters currently off limits to conventional turbines but where the wind is much stronger.

Mr Davey said: “Britain has more wind turbines installed around its shores than any other country in the world and our market is rated year after year as the most attractive market among investors.

“Offshore wind is critical for the UK’s energy future and there is big interest around the world in what we’re doing.

“Floating wind turbines will allow us to exploit more of the our wind resource, potentially more cheaply.

“Turbines will be able to locate in ever deeper waters where the wind is stronger but without the expense of foundations down to the seabed or having to undertake major repairs out at sea.

“The UK and US are both making funding available for this technology and we’re determined to work together to capitalise on this shared intent.”


Floating wind technology

The UK benefits from a third of Europe’s offshore wind potential, has more installed offshore wind than any other country, the biggest pipeline of projects and is rated year after year by Ernst & Young as the most attractive market among investors.

Exploiting this economically, particularly in deeper waters off the west of the country, will require significant technology developments to build large offshore wind arrays.

Much of the deeper waters between 60 and 100 metres are too deep for fixed structures but benefit from consistently higher wind speeds.

Floating wind technologies could therefore open up new areas off the coast of the UK. This will ultimately increase the potential of this sector, particularly post 2020 as the available shallow water sites are developed, and will help to meet our decarbonisation and energy security targets.

Major repairs on floating wind platforms can also take place when the devices are towed back to dock which will also help to reduce costs.