Addressing the challenges of offshore wind turbine installation and maintenance in high winds

Reducing weather sensitivity of turbine component lifting significantly reduces LCOE

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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”.

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

Turning weather risks into a window of opportunity

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.

With further offshore locations, more severe weather conditions follow, particularly with respect to wave and wind conditions. Far-shore offshore wind sites in the German North Sea have wind average wind speeds of 10+ meters per second.

From an energy generation perspective, these conditions are excellent. The flip side of the coin is however that the conditions can present a significant challenge during installation and weather remains a critical factor for the project’s success. Continue reading

The great offshore wind paradox

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

How can contractors contribute to a sustainable offshore wind industry?

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

What’s next in offshore wind installation technology?

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