Celtic Sea floating offshore wind
Experts from research and industry are joining forces for a feasibility study which could result in a pioneering centre for floating offshore wind (FLOW) research being developed in Cornwall.
The Celtic Offshore Mooring and Anchoring R&D Centre (COMAC) feasibility studycould in the future play a critical role in the sector’s projected expansion off the South West of England.
Currently the focus of a leasing round driven by the Crown Estate, the expansion could result in up to 4.5GW of renewable energy capacity being created in the Celtic Sea by 2035.
When realised, that capacity will go a considerable way to generating the clean energy needed to deliver on the UK’s ambitious net zero commitments.
To support that projected growth, the feasibility study will develop the business case for the new COMAC centre, identify potential sites, and outline how it could be delivered effectively.
It will engage a wide range of stakeholders including site developers, supply chain, local and regulatory authorities and sector specialists to realise the market and demand for the centre.
It will also examine the centre’s long-term viability, assess the environmental impact, and explain how the facility could support local FLOW businesses to develop new products and technologies, boost their productivity, create high valuable jobs in the area, and generate exports.
The feasibility study is being led by researchers from the University of Plymouth’s Centre for Decarbonisation and Offshore Renewable Energy, working with Reflex Marine Ltd, Celtic Sea Power and the ORE Catapult.
It is being supported through the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Good Growth Programme, a £137million investment programme managed by Cornwall Council and funded by the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Professor Lars Johanning, Professor of Ocean Technology at the University, is the study’s principal investigator. He was among the experts who contributed to a recent report for the Crown Estate, which highlighted that the Celtic Sea floating offshore wind farms could create more than 5,000 new jobs and boost the economy by up to £1.4 billion.

The projected development of floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea would be game-changing for the South West, and the UK as a whole. For that to be realised, we need to have the infrastructure in place that will enable both the development and delivery of this exciting opportunity. The proposed COMAC project would create that, supporting businesses and innovators to overcome the real-world commercial hurdles they will undoubtedly face. It will also create an accredited test facility geographically close to the Celtic Sea, and operated by experts who understand the technology requirements and how to test and demonstrate complex industrial systems.

Lars JohanningLars Johanning
Professor of Ocean Technology

The feasibility study, which will run until March 2025, is one of a number of initiatives to be supported by a new £4m investment from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Good Growth Programme.
The strategic investment is designed to accelerate Cornwall’s goal to maximise the huge opportunities for floating offshore wind (FLOW) generation in the Celtic Sea and establish the region as a key player in the UK’s transition to clean energy in the pursuit of net zero.

We are committed to a sustainable future and to Cornwall’s net zero journey. Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW) has the potential to be a once in a generation opportunity for Cornwall in terms of supply chain, renewable energy, job opportunities and economic growth. We are strategically located for FLOW in the Celtic Sea and welcome the opportunities that its development brings for our residents in terms of job opportunities, economic growth and our sustainable future.

Cllr Louis Gardner
Portfolio holder for economy at Cornwall Council
 

A centre of offshore renewable energy excellence

The University of Plymouth is home to a number of the UK’s leading offshore renewable energy experts and facilities. In particular, it has pioneered new research and innovations in floating offshore wind, with its COAST Laboratory currently home to the UK Floating Offshore Wind Turbine Test Facility.
Its researchers also lead the Supergen Offshore Renewable Energy Hub, a national consortium working to accelerate the technology development, collaboration and industry uptake for commercial ORE developments.
COAST Laboratory, Marine Building