Interview: BlueFloat Energy’s CEO Carlos Martin on growth in floating wind

Large floating offshore wind projects have received a major kickstart this year, according to Carlos Martin, CEO of BlueFloat Energy.


February 17, 2022

Large floating offshore wind projects have received a major kickstart this year, according to Carlos Martin, CEO of BlueFloat Energy.

Does that mean 2022 is the year of floating wind? “It’s definitely an important year for floating wind [but] our perspective is that every year in the next few years is going to be the year of floating wind,” he said.

It has certainly been an important year so far for Madrid-based BlueFloat, which saw major success in the recent 25GW ScotWind tender, even though the firm was only set up in 2020.

In partnership with Falck Renewables, BlueFloat won with three of its bids to secure seabed leases in Scotland, which could accommodate up to 3GW of floating offshore capacity. The two companies are partnering with Danish offshore giant Ørsted on one of the sites.

The UK is just one of BlueFloat’s key markets. The company is also developing two projects totalling 600MW with Falck in the Celtic Sea, off the south coast of Ireland. It is working on three developments in Australia totalling 3.3GW in partnership with Energy Estate. And it plans to develop floating wind projects in France, Italy, Spain and New Zealand.

A Word About Wind editor-in-chief Richard Heap spoke to Martin as part of our Wind Investment Trends video series, where he interviewed 11 experts from our membership community, who provided their insights into how the wind energy sector is shaping this year.

A Word About Wind members can access the report here and watch the video series here.

Importance of partnerships

Martin explained that partnerships are a key component of BlueFloat’s strategy in offshore wind because they enable the firm to be active in many markets: “We find partnerships to be the best way – not necessarily the easiest – to developing offshore projects,” he said.

But these partnerships aren’t just with other established developers. They’re also with the local communities, environmental agencies, and fishing industries: “The first thing we do when developing a new project is to be proactive and transparent when approaching local stakeholders,” he said. “We all need to ensure that compatibility is the rule.”

Martin said early collaboration is crucial for the long-term progression of the industry and enables developers to reduce their reliance on developments that are wholly speculative. He said it also equipped the company with insights that could be used in multiple markets.

“From a BlueFloat development perspective, speed and agility is fundamental. We need to leverage experience from mature markets to shorten the time of project deployment.”

Regulatory obstacles

Each market comes with its own obstacles for developers that are looking to accelerate the implementation of projects, but Martin argued that the lack of supporting regulation for floating wind projects is a common feature globally.

“Of course, it’s not easy for regulators because you need to combine the differing interests and make sure that all projects are being careful in terms of the environmental impact. But at the same time, there needs to be a clear set of rules so that the developers, who are already doing a great job in such aspects, can progress much faster,” he said.

He also argued that this regulation is needed fast.

“For there to be offshore wind commissioning in four, five, six or eight years’ time, you need to act today,” he said. This requires a strong push from all authorities to create a framework that developers and investors are willing to spend their time and money on.

Long-term outlook

When asked about the effect of ongoing disruptions due to Covid, supply chain bottlenecks and rising costs of raw materials, Martin made the clear distinction between short and long-term events

He explained: “For a developer like us, we try to focus more on the longer-term trends and not get distracted too much by events, from our perspective, that may not last in time.”

He said BlueFloat’s strategy is based on the fact that offshore wind will become mainstream in a range of geographical markets, with floating offshore wind to play a critical role in that trajectory: “Current projections show that probably only 5% of the total offshore capacity will be floating,” he said, adding that he expected this share to increase drastically in those following years – and that BlueFloat could play an important role in that expansion.

A Word About Wind members can watch the full interview with Carlos Martin here

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