Global Expert Mission: UK-Japan and South Korea Floating Offshore Wind

Posted on: 19/09/2019

In February 2019, Aline Martins, KTN, visited Japan and South Korea for a Global Expert Mission in Floating Offshore Wind.

What is the current situation in the UK?

An article published two years ago declares that offshore wind farms have the capability to create up to three times more electricity than those based on land. Scotland is aiming for full renewable energy use by 2020. The National Grid has reported that in the past decade wind power has gone from 1% to 19%. The Offshore wind sector deal establishes the target of 30% of British electricity to be powered by offshore wind by 2030. The requirement for offshore wind farms in the UK is clear. However, there are complications.

A recent study by Fishman highlighted a concerning question – are offshore wind turbines really as green as we think? Offshore turbines are bigger than their onshore siblings, requiring magnets that are currently only built using a rare-earth metal, neodymium. We are thrown into a dichotomy between the clear need for clean energy, and the conscious depletion of natural resources. Not to mention the recyclability, sourcing (largely mined in China), and sheer quantity of this resource required per individual turbine. There are also concerns that the wind pressure cannot maintain at a reliable level, and there are some issues over cost. Whilst offshore wind could be the solution to a huge problem, not only for Britain but for the world, it is apparent that there is an urgent need for offshore wind turbine development.

The mission was timed to build on a growing level of interest in the UK in floating OSW, driven by a number of key events:

• The successful operational year of the Hywind Project, the first commercial floating OSW project in the UK (commissioned late 2017).

• The upcoming Scotwind seabed leasing round, within which 60% of sites are expected to require floating type foundations.

• The release of the OSW sector deal in March 2019, which lays out plans for OSW in the UK to 2030 and beyond, securing the progression of the industry.


Why did we select Japan and South Korea?

1. A requirement for floating OSW for deep water OSW development, due to limited shallow water off their coastlines.

2. Demonstrated interest in the sector, through the development of demonstration projects.

The UK delegation for this Global Expert Mission visited Ulsan, Seoul and Tokyo on the 25 February to the 2 March 2019 to explore the shared opportunities and challenges in floating offshore wind.

UK Floating Offshore Wind Expert Delegation

Crown Estate Scotland

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Innogy Renewables


Green Investment Group (GIG)

Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult

Scottish Development International (SDI)

David Hÿtch, Head of Energy, Innovate UK comments:

The offshore wind expert mission to South Korea and Japan was an excellent visit with lots of valuable learning. It may sound silly to say so, but sometimes when you visit two places during one trip, that are close geographically, and on paper have similar ambitions in the offshore wind market; you make the assumption that the challenges, needs and opportunities are also similar. Sometimes you just need to go to a place, see the infrastructure and meet with the people to get a real understanding of innovation landscape. During the visit we learned a lot about the key players in the domestic markets of South Korea and Japan, the future outlook, position on innovation and appetite to collaborate. We made some excellent contacts and have started building good relationships. I am optimistic that the trip will be the catalyst for a future intervention that can support innovate UK businesses internationalise in these offshore wind markets.

About Global Expert Missions

Innovate UK’s Global Expert Missions programme is one of its most important tools to support the UK’s Industrial Strategy’s ambition for the UK to be the international partner of choice for science and innovation.

Global collaborations are crucial in meeting the Industrial Strategy’s Grand Challenges and will be further supported by the launch of a new International Research and Innovation Strategy.

Innovate UK’s Global Expert Missions, led by KTN, play an important role in building strategic partnerships, providing deep insight into the opportunities for UK innovation and shaping future bilateral collaboration programmes.

For more information, and to get in touch, please contact the International Team.

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