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BVG Associates has recently analysed the effects of increasing the wind speed limit for turbine component lifts. The results of this analysis are described in detail in a new report, “Impact of the Boom Lock tool on offshore wind cost of energy”.
To improve profitability, offshore wind farms are moving further offshore and significantly growing in size. The latest example is the 1200 MW Hornsea project, located 120 kilometres off the UK coast with more than 170 turbines.
The offshore wind industry faces a well-known paradox. It needs wind to generate electricity, but too much wind makes it difficult to create the necessary infrastructure. Quite simply, lifting major components in high winds is one of the biggest issues facing offshore wind turbine installation. Over the years, thousands of days of installation time have been lost, leading to cost increases in the billions of Euros and huge project delays.
Offshore wind now accounts for about 7% of European renewable energy generation. Most of this new capacity has been built since 2015. Although the rate of growth has been slower than many expected or hoped, it is still a significant shift in the way Europe generates electricity. The change has been biggest in the UK, where offshore wind now generates about 5% of all its UK electricity demand.
As offshore wind turbine sizes grow rapidly, the technology needed to install and commission turbines is not following suit. This is a significant barrier to progress in the offshore wind industry and is continuing to make it difficult to reduce the levelised cost of energy.
In what could signify a crossroads for the offshore wind industry, E.ON has internalised the O&M of offshore wind turbines at Scroby Sands. I spoke recently with Scroby Sands’ Operations Manager Keith Cooke about it, who told me the warranty period for these turbines was coming to an end, and instead of renewing the warranty, they decided to take on the maintenance themselves.
Establishing a safe foundation is a vital part of jack-up operations. The jack-up vessel needs to be supported by an absolutely solid foundation during the entire jack-up operation at any given site.
The Crown Estate has recently released its report focusing on how jack-up vessels can help bring down costs in the maintenance of offshore wind turbines.
As long as politicians delay long-term plans within sustainable energy and threaten to reopen the energy discussions at a political level, it’ll be impossible to reduce offshore wind energy prices.