The offshore sector of the wind industry has made headlines in recent months. It has progressed rapidly, both in technical innovation and in the competitiveness of offshore energy in the electricity market. Many of the companies active in the offshore wind market are presenting their portfolios at WindEnergy Hamburg, the world’s leading expo for onshore and offshore wind energy, from 25 to 28 September. The expo will be held in parallel with the global conference of WindEurope at the Hamburg Messe site – together they comprise the Global Wind Summit, the biggest and most important meeting of the wind industry worldwide. WindEnergy Hamburg is expecting more than 1,400 exhibitors from all parts of the world, with about 40% of them showcasing products or services for offshore wind farms. The range covers the whole of the value chain, from turbines, towers and foundations to gearboxes, generators, bearings, shafts and lubes to O&M solutions and installation vessels.
Global world market growth
Besides main offshore wind market Europe, other geographical regions of the world might start experiencing quick growth too in the next years says GWEC in its 2017 Global Wind Report. The organization points at emerging markets with huge interest in the technology and substantial growth potential including Taiwan, South Korea, the US (east-coast), Japan, India, Brazil, and Australia. China is already the largest offshore market outside Europe, with according Wikipedia ‘Liste der Offshore-Windparks’ statistics close to 2 GW operation at the end of 2017. Among Chinese offshore wind exhibitors in Hamburg are turbine OEM’s Envison Energy and Ming Yang.
Offshore according GWEC represented last year about 8% of the global market, and represents 3.5% of the cumulative installed capacity but growing fast. Global offshore installations in 2017 were 4,334 MW, of which around 27% installed in markets outside Europe. Overall, there are now 18,814 MW of installed offshore capacity around the world.
According WindEurope’s report Offshore Wind in Europe; Key trends and statistics 2017, Europe’s net installed capacity, spread over 560 new turbines across 17 wind farms, increased last year by 3,148 MW. The average offshore turbine capacity more than doubled to 5.9 MW over the past decade, and 23% higher set against 2016. Project size for offshore windfarms under construction during 2017 grew to 493 MW from a 79.6 MW average in 2007. Current windfarm size record holder is the 1.2 GW Hornsea One project (UK) with construction start this year. A 2017 floating wind milestone was the commissioning of the world’s first windfarm, Scotland’s 30 MW Hywind II consisting of five 6 MW Siemens Gamesa direct drive turbines.
Internationally, new innovative technology and fresh solutions for ‘traditional’ fixed-bottom and floating wind generate huge interest. A number of Belgian exhibitors all active in offshore wind jointly represent themselves in Hamburg as the BOC VZW Belgian Offshore Cluster in a national pavilion. BOC is an association of offshore wind industry co-suppliers with around 60 members. “At the Belgian pavilion at WindEnergy Hamburg our partners will highlight their specific know-how and experiences to international wind industry visitors”, said BOC chairman Christophe Dehaene.
A main overall theme for all international contenders is how to successfully enter new and emerging markets. The Global Wind Summit in Hamburg offers therefore an excellent platform opportunity. A second main theme is achieving optimized cost-effectiveness through the deployment of next-generation large-scale turbines.
Siemens Gamesa and MHI Vestas dominate Europe’s largest offshore wind market with direct drive and medium-speed geared turbine solutions respectively, in ratings up to 9.5 MW. They and other exhibitors like GE Renewable Energy and Senvion all explore next-generation 10-15MW+ future platforms. German engineering consultancy aerodyn-engineering develops a fully integrated 15 MW floating system incorporating twin 7.5MW two-bladed counter-rotating downwind turbines with 150-metre rotor diameters.
107-metre rotor blades
GE’s 12MW Haliade X direct drive turbine in development features a record 220-metre rotor composed of 107-metre blades developed by LM Wind Power of Denmark. The turbine with first deliveries planned in 2021 features only 316W/m2 specific power rating, a configuration showing future direction for other large-scale turbine developments. Such supersize rotor offers higher yields especially during periods with little wind. When this in specific offshore wind markets coincides with high wind power penetration levels under liberalized market conditions, it could contribute to better electricity prices. A related positive impact is enhanced grid stability. All these aspects form integral part of many different smart energy solutions including intermediate storage technologies being developed by Hamburg WindEnergy exhibitors from across the world. They will explain international visitors too on the latest technology advancements regarding industrialization, with increased use of ‘big data.’ This offers for offshore wind farms combined benefits like higher operating reliability through better longer-term failure prediction and smarter cost-reducing O&M solutions. This long-time turbine tracking could result in more advanced windfarm upkeep strategies primarily aimed at further driving down offshore LCOE.
Monopiles remained according WindEurope with 87% of all new installed foundations the most popular substructure solution in 2017, with Jackets taking second position with 9.4%. WindEnergy Hamburg exhibitors EEW Group and SIF Netherlands led Europe’s total offshore substructure market with shares of 53% and 24.1% respectively. “EEW SPC manufactures monopiles currently up to 10-m diameter. Our daughter company EEW OSB produces TP’s in the UK and EEW Group also manufactures pre-fabricated components for jackets. This range of products made by EEW offers flexibility to our existing clients and will enable a necessary leap forward in emerging main offshore markets like the US and Asia”, said Michael Hof, COO/Managing Director of EEW SPC.
The largest Monopiles available weigh around 1,500 around tonnes, which puts additional pressure to continuously upgrade vessel, foundation handling and hoisting gear capacities and performance. Multiple windfarm installation specialists will show their combined in-house capabilities to Hamburg WindEnergy visitors. Exhibitor Van Oord Offshore recently took delivery of a new 1600-tonne main crane re-fitted at its self-propelled Aeolus jack-up, initially commissioned in 2014 with 900-tonne crane. Damen Shipyards will inform visitors about its novel ‘walk-to-work’ Service Operations Vessel (SOV) for offshore windfarm upkeep.
Several international floater developers will highlight their dedicated floating concepts to WindEnergy Hamburg visitors, like aerodyn-engineering and GustoMSC (semi-submersible) and Gicon (tension-leg, TLP), while spar-type solutions are characterized by their operational stability. Gicon Founder Prof. Jochen Grossmann: “WindEnergy Hamburg 2018 is for us an important international platform. Last year Gicon teamed up with US-based Glosten, developer of the Pelastar TLP. We in-house developed Gicon-SOF TLP technology during the past decade. Individual strengths of both commercially-ready products will be combined into a new hybrid solution for the global floating wind market, and we will show international visitors all features and benefits.” Floating offshore wind in general enjoys growing wind industry interest, reflected by the increasing number of projects and the larger turbines sizes selected for these platforms.