EU offshore wind has a bright future, EWEA conference track chairs agree

» By | Published 17 Dec 2013 |

The next two years will be critical to further establishing and expanding the European offshore wind sector, especially in Britain and Germany, one of the track chairs at the recent offshore conference in Frankfurt said earlier this week.

Dima Rifai, CEO of Paradigm Change Capital Partners in the UK, added a key area in the continued development of the offshore wind industry will be various ways that cost reduction can be realised across both the cost of technology and the cost of capital.

Rifai also said in an email interview that it will be interesting to see how offshore wind’s supply chain evolves and what effects local content requirements will have on the industry.

The finance track chair at the European Wind Energy Association’s Offshore conference in Germany three weeks ago, Rifai said an important message that came out of the financing sessions was that regulatory uncertainty is one of the main themes preoccupying both the industry and financial investor participants.

“We are still learning the risks in offshore wind and how to adjust for them,” she said. “As a result, there are few standardised ways to do things and each wind farm requires bespoke solutions which is an expensive way and time consuming process.”

But Rifai added that overall there is a will on the finance side to be involved in offshore wind and that many parties are studying the market seriously for an entry point.

Andrew Jamieson, CEO, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, UK, said there is a continuing call for political certainty across Europe especially regarding targets beyond 2020 that would give the market the confidence to scale up manufacturing.

As the track chair for the industrialising the supply chain sessions, Jamieson added that overall there was a strong sense at the conference that the offshore wind sector will indeed move forwards.

“What I [found] particularly interesting were the viewpoints of senior players starting to regard big projects as offshore power stations,” Jamieson said. “This means a lot to me in everything from how projects are thought about in design, procurement, construction and operation. It’s no longer elitist activity for wind experts but a strong industry for all power professionals.”

He also described the sector as an industry that will be here to stay and provide not just clean energy but jobs and economic value for decades.

Jesper Møller, the Head of Offshore Technologies for Siemens Wind Power, was the future technologies track chair.

Møller said that while the future of European offshore wind is bright, the sector needs to overcome cost challenges, which is tough but not impossible.

“Everybody needs to accept that this is not a high-margin industry but it is a healthy industry with many years of opportunities if we understand the need for simplifications,” he said.

“It is now clear to the industry that all players have to pitch in with cost savings on all areas. There is no chance that the turbine manufacturers can lift this challenge alone. A lot of focus on more cost-efficient foundations and simpler grid connection systems is necessary.”

Norbert Giese, Vice President of Offshore Development for REpower, was the markets, strategies and planning track chair at the recent conference.

Giese also believes that European offshore wind has a positive future.

“The main driver for the offshore wind industry during this decade will be Northwest Europe and the Baltic,” Giese said, predicting there will be additional offshore markets in the next decade.

More information about EWEA’s offshore conference and exhibition can be found here.


Floating offshore wind turbines could drive Japan’s green energy future

» By | Published 13 Nov 2013 |

index_ph009_largeLess than three years after the disaster at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, a hotly-anticipated floating offshore wind turbine began operating 20 kilometres from the damaged site on Monday.

A number of news organisations reported that Yuhei Sato, governor of Fukushima, said that the floating turbine could become a symbol of the region’s desire to become a green energy centre.
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British public wants wind energy – but government has different plans

» By | Published 07 Aug 2013 |

Off2An overwhelming majority of the public in the UK approve of the government providing financial support for renewable energy technologies, according to a new survey. The YouGov poll for the Sunday Times found support from across the political spectrum, with Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP voters all agreeing that the government should continue investing in low-carbon technologies.

The survey found 65% of respondents in favour of government spending money for wind power, while 76% said the same for tidal energy and 78% backed financial support for solar. In comparison, only 49% approved of public financial support for nuclear, 57% for clean coal and just 40% said the government should provide support for shale gas. 47% of respondents considered shale gas projects as damaging to the environment.

Despite this, Chancellor George Osborne recently revealed tax breaks for the fracking industry, with a 30% tax rate for onshore shale gas production, much lower than oil taxes. Osborne called his new tax regime “the most generous for shale in the world”.

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EU wind industry faces critical worker shortage

» By | Published 05 Aug 2013 |

Workers-Wanted-TPwind-2The European wind industry has grown so rapidly over the past decade that it is facing a critical shortage of skilled personnel, a new report reveals. There is currently a shortage of 7,000 qualified personnel required by the European wind energy sector each year, a figure that could increase to 15,000 by 2030 if the number of graduates taking courses relevant to the industry does not rise.

The figures come from a new report by the European Wind Energy Technology Platform (TPWind), based on research by renewable energy consultancy GL Garrad Hassan: “Workers wanted: The EU wind energy sector skills gap”. A full 78% of companies that responded to the TPWind questionnaire said they “found it difficult or very difficult to find suitably trained staff”. This in an EU with an overall 11% unemployment rate, and a youth unemployment rate of 20.9% (5.5 million people between the ages of 15-24).

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Significance of Deep Water report is technological advance in offshore wind

» By | Published 02 Aug 2013 |

The launch of ‘Deep Water: the next step for offshore wind energy’ saw an enthusiastic media focus on the idea that offshore wind could provide Europe with enough electricity to power Europe four times over. The headlines were impressive, but that offshore wind holds massive potential for Europe is not news for anyone following the wind industry.

As long ago as 2008, when far less than the current total of 6,040MW of offshore capacity was installed in Europe, the European Commission said that “offshore wind can and must make a substantial contribution to meeting the EU’s energy policy objectives through a very significant increase – in the order of 30-40 times by 2020 and 100 times by 2030 – in installed capacity compared to today.”

EWEA has projected that offshore will see 40 GW installed capacity by 2020, equivalent to 4% of EU electricity demand, and 150 GW by 2030, meeting 14% of EU electricity demand.

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