We spoke to Jesper Månsson, Director of Technical Business Development at LM Wind Power and Topic Leader for Turbine Technology, about the development of the industry over the last 10 years and the years to come.
It’s been ten years since EWEA OFFSHORE was last in Copenhagen, where was offshore turbine technology then?
Ten years ago, we were in the early days for offshore technology which was developed to a large extent by trying to adapt onshore technology to offshore conditions. There were significant technological challenges, no integrated risk framework and the market consisted of a few demonstration projects. Generally, projects were small, rather near shore, and the market outlook was highly uncertain. The case for offshore 10 years ago was based on the increasing onshore saturation and the strong offshore wind resources close to major load centres. This is still very much the case today, with the substantial difference however, that now the technology is proven.
And where is it now?
Over the past decade, offshore technology has been proven and further cost improvement potential has been identified, which means the market has developed to become an industry in itself. Offshore is deployed widely in Europe and is establishing a foothold in Asia. New capacity is dominated by multi-MW turbines where scale, performance and reliability are key. Major investors, large utilities and conglomerates are positioning to invest in 21st century power generation and their entrance into the market will help drive down cost, which is still much needed.
The industry will drive the cost reductions through innovations in both product and manufacturing technology and through scale. And by gathering volumes from more players, the industry can benefit from economies of scale and labour efficiencies.
How would you describe the rate of development in offshore wind compared to onshore?
Both technologies have endured a teething period, and the rate of growth within the offshore market is as expected, considering the fact that the market is still rather small. We’ve seen onshore reach cost-competitive levels (-40% per decade) and everything indicates that offshore can achieve similar levels of competitiveness with volume and a steady build-up of experience derived from stable and predictable policies. Offshore is expected to move from 2% to 20% of the global wind market by 2023 but it will require that we optimise the overall cost of energy. Substructures, installation and grid cost represent a large part of the investment which require higher power rated turbines delivering higher scale effect to achieve a compelling business case.
What developments are you hoping will come online in the next five years?
It all depends on four key elements: performance, capex, opex and financeability to ensure the highest performing and cost-effective product throughout its lifetime. We need to increase annual energy production and reduce cost through innovation in material use and manufacturing technologies, while considering optimum reliability and efficient service of the turbines during operation. Part of the recipe for that is working through efficient industrialised set-ups based on high volumes of larger turbines.
How can the industry unite to achieve these advances?
Policy clarity is an important factor where the industry can work together to influence and understand the frameworks and rules of the game better. This will help provide the certainty needed for investments. Competition is another driver for advancement. One example of how we contribute to that development at LM Wind Power is our modular product that allows a number of wind turbine manufacturers the opportunity to participate in markets they might otherwise not be able to compete in. Further gathering of volume from more players will support economies of scale. These are all catalysts for competitiveness and scale.
As chairperson of the turbine technology topic at EWEA OFFSHORE, what are you hoping participants will learn from the conference sessions?
The topic of the session is ‘which turbine technologies will bring down cost by 2020?’ so the participants will be introduced to a number of elements in that regard. I hope the participants will walk away with a deeper understanding of the most important factors that influence turbine performance and how to influence the cost of energy. The key headlines are about feeding data from field experience and studies into the design basis, managing loads to enable optimized designs, innovative concepts and reduced O&M cost.
Having reviewed the many high quality abstracts coming in, it is clear that we need to give special attention to substructures so that will be one of the key topics in the presentation sessions. It was tough having to select only a few abstracts for presentation but that means there will be a lot of valuable knowledge sharing in the poster presentations, which I strongly encourage you to go see.
What do you hope to gain from the EWEA OFFSHORE 2015 event?
I expect and look forward to a high level of focus and specialist knowledge sharing, as the conference is focused specifically at offshore wind. Offshore wind is developing into an industry on its own and the challenges and opportunities merit special attention, not least from a cost reduction perspective where it is key that the industry works closely together. As always when I am attending these events, I hope to be inspired, to explore new opportunities and to foster valuable connections.