A number of years ago, it was normal practice for offshore contractors to win major offshore wind turbine installation projects using non-propelled jack-up barges supported by tugboats and anchors for positioning. This was the established way – it was safe, reliable and efficient.
Then, in around 2011, the introduction of second-generation jack-up vessels brought Dynamic Positioning Systems (DP systems) into play. This became the new ‘state of the art’. In the typical progression of ‘order winners’ becoming ‘qualifiers’, today, vessel owners are not even invited to tender if their installation vessels are not DP2-capable.
If you consider offshore lifting operations of large components such as turbine blades, there is a strong parallel to that of vessel positioning before DP2 became the industry standard. During the lift, manual winches, people with ropes and, in some cases, simple constant-tension systems try to keep the blade under control during the lift. You could compare it to the tugboat-and-anchor method of positioning your jack-up barge. Continue reading
Maximum wind speeds have a significant influence on costs and time required for offshore wind turbine installation projects. The maximum wind speed is the speed at which it is no longer possible to lift major turbine components (nacelle, tower and blades) by a jack-up vessel. The restricting factors are crew safety and equipment damage due to instability of the load during the hoist.
Kate Freeman and I recently performed an analysis of the main factors contributing to project delays and cost increases. Importantly, we have also analysed the impact of increasing the maximum wind speed – such that lifts can be performed at higher wind speeds. We looked at the potential savings by being able to complete offshore wind turbine installation projects in higher wind speeds. Continue reading
In this second of two exclusive interviews with High Wind Challenge, DEME Group CEO Alain Bernard explains why the company invests in innovation and how it contributes to reducing offshore wind costs.
Can you explain the DEME Group’s basis for diversification, particularly into offshore renewables?
The essence is our speciality within certain niches and that we aim to be the best in those niches. Our dredging background has given us knowhow within different areas, such as the seabed, sea conditions and other marine environment factors as well as the associated technologies. We have specialised further in related niches, and without losing the focus of our core knowhow, we have expanded our activities. Continue reading
In an exclusive interview with High Wind Challenge, DEME Group CEO Alain Bernard, explains why innovation is needed for the offshore wind industry to advance and that true innovation will only happen with greater collaboration across the industry.
Belgian DEME Group is one of Europe’s largest marine engineering conglomerates. CEO Alain Bernard has seen it grow from a specialist dredging company into a highly diverse maritime business covering hydraulic projects, services to oil and gas companies, installation of offshore wind farms, environmental activities and more.
High Wind Challenge spoke to Alain Bernard about the main challenges and opportunities facing renewable energy. Continue reading
Recent advancements in technology can bring about a long-awaited positive development in the offshore wind industry: reducing weather risk associated with offshore wind turbine installation.
Difficult weather conditions often lead to significant project delays caused by downtime that extends project time and increases costs.
Of course, weather downtime is an unavoidable part of any installation process and must be figured into project costs alongside all of the different activities required of the jack-up, including mobilisation and demobilisation, loading of the wind turbine elements, transit between the port and the wind farm, positioning and jacking, and installation of the turbine. Continue reading
The cost of the wind turbine installation setup is an important factor in the quest to reduce the levelised cost of energy (LCOE). Research and development within new technologies is key to making installation quicker, more reliable and safer.
But in order to fully understand the implications of reducing installation setup costs, it is necessary to perform robust calculations. And these calculations must be based on correct assumptions and figures that are as accurate as possible. Continue reading
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”.
The report, available exclusively on this site, quantifies the impact on levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of reduced vessel use and earlier power generation, based on the use of the “Boom Lock” tool.
The report concludes that reducing weather sensitivity of turbine component lifting significantly reduces LCOE. Continue reading
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.
Various remedies have been attempted, but the nut still has not been cracked. In fact, I am rather surprised at the half-hearted efforts to address the paradox. Why? Because the impact of weather downtime has far-reaching ramifications in and beyond the industry. Continue reading
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.
But it hasn’t been cheap. In 2012, new offshore wind farms at final investment decision (FID) had a levelised cost of energy of about €150/MWh. At the time, the ambition was to get to about €110 for projects reaching FID in 2020. Led by the rapid introduction of next generation of offshore wind turbines, recent analysis by BVGA suggests that the 2020 target is well within reach. Continue reading
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.
Today’s wind turbines and the associated installation technology, such as taglines, have been created from the same baseline. But it is all essential just an incremental evolution of technologies that have been moved from onshore to offshore. There have been no significant design revolutions.
At the same time, we are using the same technology developed for smaller turbines and assuming it will deal with 8MW turbines – and bigger. We are increasingly demanding more from the equipment, but in reality the technology has its limits. Continue reading