Three of the biggest players on the European offshore wind stage — Danish developer-utility Dong and turbine makers MHI-Vestas and Siemens — have taken the extraordinary step of putting their names to a document intended to unify the sector at a critical point in its history. Top of their Joint Declaration for a United Industry: cost-reduction.
After years of stop-start progress, the industrialisationof offshore wind is gaining momentum, but has many hurdles lying ahead. Screwing down the cost of technology, construction and operation of wind farms to a levelised cost of energy (LCoE) under €100 ($116) per MWh — at deeper-water, far-from-shore projects — would put fresh winds in the sails of a sector that is closing in on grid parity with conventional fuels.
In fact, if one applies wind-power godfather Henrik Stiesdal’s societal cost of energy (SCoE) equation, which factors in social, environmental, economic and geopolitical factors, there is every reason to belief that the 30GW of offshore wind forecast to be humming off Europe by the end of the decade will be flowing to market at a price near that of onshore wind, beating hydrocarbons, nuclear and other renewables.
Cost-reduction comes in many guises. Dong’s executive vice-president for wind, Samuel Leupold, acknowledges the important contributions coming from technology development, project financing and O&M, but thinks the industry should first be taking aim at a far more fundamental target — location.
“We keep preaching internally that site selection is key — finding more suitable development sites to drive costs down,” says Leupold. “There is no doubt that many sites being built out in the past were not ideal in terms of wind speeds and seabed conditions, and too small in terms of economies of scale.
“In this regard, our industry has to become normal: like all other power-generation technologies, if you build a gas-fired power plant or a hydropower dam in the wrong place, it will not be cost-competitive….”
Read the rest of this article at Recharge News.