Maritime CEOOffshoreRenewables

Bourbon: Pioneering offshore wind floaters

With fixed offshore wind turbines growing bigger and more difficult to install, most countries are looking for longer distance to shore wind installations.

“To solve the issue of deeper water, the future wind turbines will have to be installed on floaters,” says Patrick Belenfant, CEO of Bourbon Subsea Services, one of the pioneers in the floating offshore wind construction.

Bourbon Subsea Services has recently been awarded its fifth floating wind turbine project since it decided to go down the floaters path in 2011 with the first 2.5 MW prototype in Portugal.

The company will transport and install the 3.6 MW TetraSpar floating wind turbine prototype off Norway.

“We are now mastering the 3 main types of floaters, and with this exciting experience with Tetraspar, we will be the market player with the widest experience in the sector,” Belenfant says.

Predominantly known for its offshore oil and gas services, the company plans to remain faithful to its key market in the next 10 to 20 years.

“The energy transition is on its way, this market is transforming itself as all oil and gas majors have announced their carbon neutrality ambitions and are investing to reduce their impact,” he says. “But we know that things can take time. So we need to support this change, especially when thousands of jobs are at stake.”

The market for offshore marine services remains very tight and the global health situation has delayed the recovery initially expected in 2020.

Nevertheless, as a top-ranking service provider in the traditional sector, the company can now leverage its experience and know-how in the high-potential sector of floating wind structures.

According to Belenfant, the industry’s expectations are that development of the floating sector will accelerate over the next two or three years and achieve a level of full commercialisation by 2024.

“Bourbon Subsea Services is present on all prototype and pre-industrial stage up to 2023 – this positions our company for the industrial phase beyond 2025 with all players as an EPCI enabler to reduce cost,” Belenfant says.

There are few pre-industrial floater developments upcoming around three floaters up to 2025. The next industrial project such as Total and Simply Blue Energy’s Erebus in the Celtic Sea with most likely nine turbines, will come up between 2025 and 2027 with even larger projects in South Korea.

Belenfant believes the industry is on the cusp of seeing an extraordinarily rapid ramp-up in the scale of new projects and the next round of floating offshore projects to reach the call for tenders’ stage are likely to be on an industrialised scale.

When it comes to alternative marine energy plays, such as wave and tidal, Bourbon sees these technologies as less mature in terms of economical scale. However, according to Belenfant, the energy storage or combination with hydrogen production could be an unlocking technology.

Moving forward, in addition to floating offshore wind, Bourbon Subsea Services plans to focus on integrated logistics, end-to-end transport and digitalisation of its fleet.

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