Of the 96 European ports analysed, only a few in Scotland, Norway and Spain were suitable for the development and operation of floating offshore wind farms, marine and engineering consultancy LOC Renewables claimed.
The vast majority, however, do not meet various criteria needed to facilitate manufacturing and assembly required for building and operating large-scale floating wind farms, it added.
Currently, the largest floating wind farm has a total capacity of 30MW and comprises just five turbines. However, organised infrastructure planning will be vital to accommodate far bigger projects and allow the industry to reach commercial viability.
LOC Renewables carried out research for a floating wind joint industry report published on behalf of the Carbon Trust. It will present its findings at the WindEurope 2018 conference in Hamburg this week.
The consultancy suggested that to support the nascent floating offshore wind industry, ports would require a suitably large onshore area for component set-down and production lines. An area for wet storage of assembled units would also be needed, and the port should be close to other operation-capable ports.
Without these changes to infrastructure, floating projects will suffer from increased costs and longer operational lead times, LOC suggested. For example, if an assembly port is further from the construction site, tow operations will be longer and costlier.
LOC Renewables added that current installation and support vessels used for fixed foundation wind farms are likely to prove insufficient, and new ones will need to be developed to meet the demands of floating offshore projects. If construction is to be carried out offshore, the industry will need to invest in new vessels with greater lifting capability.
RV Ahilan, joint CEO of LOC Renewables, said: "By highlighting the infrastructure challenges facing floating wind, we are enabling them to be tackled head-on.
"As the industry develops the necessary technologies to make floating offshore wind commercially viable, there is an urgent need for investment in port infrastructure to avoid delays in the deployment of large-scale floating offshore wind farms."
The world’s largest operational floating wind farm is Equinor’s 30MW Hywind project off the coast of Scotland, but larger projects have been suggested. In September, a Principle Power-led consortium submitted a lease application for a floating project with a total capacity of 100-150MW off the coast of California.
LOC Renewables will be presenting its study at the WindEurope 2018 conference in Hamburg on Friday, 28 September.