Floating wind’s power-and-oil play, the world’s biggest turbine and the battery on a Li-ion hunt

Could floating wind be the renewable energy frontier where the worlds of power and oil & gas combine to spectacular effect?

The likelihood is strong, according to senior executives from Iberdrola and Shell – respectively two of the planet’s biggest utilities and supermajors – who joined the panel of Recharge’s highly-attended Digital Roundtable on the future of floating wind this week, which you can watch again here .

Jonathan Cole, offshore chief for Spanish power giant Iberdrola – which recently staked a claim as a floating wind leader – said fossil players would be welcome as partners in the sector, while the executive leading Shell into the fast-growing segment predicted collaboration would be key to success.

The digital roundtable also included a ringing endorsement of the prospects for floating wind from Philippe Kavafyan, CEO of turbine-maker MHI Vestas, and insights from a range of other key voices in the sector.

The week brought a powerful example of how the worlds of power and fossil fuels are overlapping , when India’s biggest generator NTPC and its state oil group ONGC said they’d work together to develop offshore wind projects – a move analysts said could help the sector’s cause in the Indian market.

This was a big week for the wider offshore wind sector in every respect, as turbine OEM Siemens Gamesa unveiled its long-awaited ‘1X’ offshore turbine that will be the world’s largest at 14MW.

The turbine is a genuine titan, flying blades nearly as long as the Saturn V space rocket and with enough horsepower under the hood to single-handedly power 18,000 homes, explained Recharge in its unrivalled coverage of the machine’s launch that includes an exclusive video interview with Siemens Gamesa offshore chief Andreas Nauen.

The huge machine is of the size needed by an industry where the scale of planned projects is increasingly jaw-dropping, the latest example being the Danish government’s decision to press ahead with two massive wind-powered ‘energy islands’ in the Baltic and North Sea, the latter with the potential to hit 10GW of capacity.

Recharge served up another exclusive from the leading-edge of the energy transition with a look at new zinc-air hybrid flow-battery technology about to be piloted in New York by Canadian start-up Zinc8.

The company’s technology, which chief executive Ron MacDonald declaims for large-scale energy storage “can’t be touched” on cost by lithium-ion, has the potential to disrupt the entire energy-storage market by making wind and solar farms baseload and even replace the need for transmission grid upgrades in many places.