The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the Phase One winners of the FLoating Offshore Wind ReadINess (FLOWIN) Prize, a first-of-its-kind competition to tackle the floating offshore wind energy industry’s biggest supply chains challenges.
About two-thirds of the nation’s offshore wind resource potential is in areas with water depths over 60 meters, where floating offshore wind turbines are more practical and cost effective than fixed-bottom turbines. The three-phase competition, which is open to floating wind platform designers, fabricators, and project site developers, aims to bridge manufacturing and logistics gaps to help meet the Biden administration’s goals to reduce the cost of floating offshore wind by 70% and deploy 15 gigawatts by 2035.
Each Phase One winner will receive $100,000 cash and $75,000 in vouchers for technical support provided by DOE national laboratories. In total, the FLOWIN Prize has a cash pool of $5.85 million, plus up to $1.175 million in technical support.
The nine winners of Phase One, which focused on determining critical manufacturing and supply chain challenges to the commercialization of floating turbine technology, are the following:
- Aikido Technologies (San Francisco, California): The Aikido design is a steel semi-submersible floating platform made of steel tubes that can be manufactured at tower facilities. The platform design offers a streamlined installation process because it can be transported in a unique, horizontal configuration and requires no welding during the final assembly process.
- Beridi USA (Spanish Fork, Utah): Beridi’s Triwind is a concrete-based floating platform that uses damping pools and buoyancy chambers to provide superior stability, limiting fatigue loading. The platform can be mass-manufactured at existing sea ports to provide cost savings.
- FloatHOME (Emeryville, California): FloatHOME’s triangular platform, WindFloat®, now in its fourth generation, provides deep-water stability through unique design features, including a damping system to absorb wave excitation movement. This platform has been fully modularized to enable differing execution plan options, allowing for streamlined manufacturing and adaptable installation.
- OCG-Wind Full Cycle (Oakland, California): By prefabricating necessary parts, OCG-Wind Full Cycle can be quickly assembled near the site of an offshore wind farm. The light-weight four-column semi-submersible floating platform design uses simple, slender components engineered for any wind turbine, making it customizable and ready for large-scale deployment.
- PelaStar (Seattle, Washington): PelaStar’s floating platform is a light-weight tension leg-platform design that minimizes environmental impacts while maintaining cost savings as well as manufacturing and installation flexibility.
- Technip Energies (Houston, Texas): Technip Energies’ INO15 design is a semi-submersible, three-column floating platform. This design can be assembled at ports at low cost and is robust enough to withstand harsh operating environments.
- Tetra Triple-One (Boston, Massachusetts): The Tetra Triple-One floating platform uses a building-block arrangement, which involves fully producing the parts needed in an industrialized manufacturing environment and then transporting them to the assembly site. This makes port-side construction possible for a range of platform configurations, turbine sizes, and site conditions.
- VolturnUS+ Domestically Produced Concrete Hull (Orono, Maine): This team focused on a simplified geometry for their concrete floating platform design, VolturnUS+. With a smaller hull compared to traditional semisubmersibles, the design streamlines construction and deployment processes and reduces costs.
- WHEEL U.S. (Coral Gables, Florida): Incorporating tanks for buoyancy and balance, the ultra-stable WHEEL floating platform design can temporarily act as a barge platform, allowing it to be assembled with the wind turbine near shore and towed to sea. It is compact in size to reduce both costs and carbon footprint.
Winners from Phase One are eligible to move into the second phase of the competition, in which each team will develop a pathway for mass manufacturing and deployment of its floating offshore wind energy substructure design.
Phase Two will have up to five winners, each receiving $450,000 in cash and a technical services voucher valued at $100,000. The competing teams will be judged on their progress in developing a plan for mass manufacturing and deployment of gigawatt-scale, floating offshore wind energy farms.
The first-ever prize funded by DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office, the FLOWIN Prize launched in September 2022 in support of the interagency Floating Offshore Wind Shot. The prize is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in partnership with the Business Network for Offshore Wind.