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Off at #OWEU20 ... The EU Offshore & Floating Wind Conference.

image credit: Kevin O'Donovan

I attended the Reuters Events “Offshore & Floating Wind EU Virtual Conference” on the 1st & 2nd October 2020. As per usual, I was keeping an eye out for info on all the latest & greatest technologies out there and I shared what stood out for me each day via a #2minTakeaway videos. Now this is the text version in a blog.

Now my usual disclaimer … given each day was an ‘entire’ event day, my 2 minute summary does not really do justice to all the chats & pages of notes I took over the day. But these were the takeaways that stood our for me.

Offshore Wind - Day 1 takeaways.

1. Business is good.

While the COVID crisis, it's economic implications and social distancing implications have impacted the Offshore Wind Industry, most of the speakers during the day called out the fact that the industry is continuing. Construction has continued, bids are being made and projects are getting awarded.

And it was Tom Harries from Bloomberg New Energy Finance presenting their 10 year Offshore Wind Global Forecast covering three different COVID-19 scenarios, even with the worst case of a long term pandemic, the prospect and forecast for offshore wind is very promising.

Remember, this plays into the fact that a lot of governments around the world are looking at offshore wind as a way of meeting their carbon reduction targets. Offshore Wind is here to stay.

2. "Local Content"

This is all to do with the Industry Supply Chain. As the offshore business booms, there are some concerns and challenges that the industry may not be able to meet the demand to manufacture, build and deploy at the needed scale.

But what I wasn't aware of was that a number of Countries are asking for 'local content' in any bids for Offshore Wind projects. 'Local Content' has to do with showing how the bid will include local manufacturing jobs, components made locally in that country etc. So it's great for economic development, for jobs and the economy in general. But it does beg the question, will you ever get the economy of scale? Will it be expensive in different countries as they may never get to such economies of scale. and see how that plays out?

3. "Jackets and jack-up"

These were all new terms for me, so when they started talking in the first session about "Monopiles" and "Jackets", I had to go and look them up. 😨

So thanks to Iberdrola, I was able to find that these are different foundations for installing wind turbines offshore. 

A 'Jack-up Vessel'. Again I had to look this up, and thanks to the Jan de Nul Group, this is one of the custom built vessels that's used to install and maintain and swap out components and stuff. Some serious impressive kit.

Offshore Floating Wind - Day 2 takeaways.

As it was a Friday, I had four takeaways on Day 2;

1. "Floaters"

That's the word used in the industry for a floating wind turbine construction and we had presentations throughout today from the likes of Navel Energies, Osbit, Saitec Technologies and Principle Power on a lot of the different engineering concepts and technologies that are used to to keep a wind turbine floating. Now, what was fascinating was that the differentiation in a floating wind turbine is not turbine. The turbines are the same ones as used in fixed installations. The differentiation comes from how it's actually floated, how it's moored, operated and maintained. And different types of floating and mooring tech alos have a role to play in what type of sea conditions the floating turbine can sustain. So we heard about floating concrete (yes, it floats ...), using different types of metal or synthetic cables, the different ways to moor/anchor a floating platform.

2. Autonomous

These wind turbines need to be deployed at massive scale. But they'll have to be almost autonomous. So you need loads of sensors, IoT data, Analytics and AI to enable predictive maintenance, but you will also need to have things like drones and robots, whether they're flying around, crawling around or swimming around underwater. Most of the 'maintenance' will have to be at autonomous. You will not have 'people' out there very often.

3. Transmission

It was Eddie O'Connor from Mainstream Renewable Power brought up Transmission already from in first session. If you look at some of the plans around the decarbonization of Europe, some are calling for about 900 gigawatts of Offshore Wind Energy. You're not going to connect up all of these wind farms off the coast of Europe with individual grid connections. You almost need an interconnected Transmission grid in the ocean, like we have on land; reaching from the North Atlantic off the West Coast of Ireland, into the Celtic Sea, into the North Sea and on to the Baltic Sea. Now remember the technology does exist. Tennet have connected BorWin5 with 230km's of HVDC undersea cables in the North Sea already.

Now I'll be off at the ENTSO-E #FutureofthePowerSystem conference on the 12th-14th Oct, and I bet this will be a big topic of discussion there.

4. Hydrogen

With so much renewable energy, a lot of people called out the potential for massive amounts of Off shore Wind Energy to be converted into Hydrogen. But the unknown was around the business case. So even with the EU Hydrogen Strategy, I wonder where the business case is for generating hydrogen from all this offshore wind energy. And when will it become viable.

So these are my main takeaways. Feel free to comment 😉

Thank to all the speakers & panelists for a good two days, and to all the team at Reuters Events for a good event. Good stuff.

Kevin.

 

Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 5, 2020

These wind turbines need to be deployed at massive scale. But they'll have to be almost autonomous. So you need loads of sensors, IoT data, Analytics and AI to enable predictive maintenance, but you will also need to have things like drones and robots, whether they're flying around, crawling around or swimming around underwater. Most of the 'maintenance' will have to be at autonomous. You will not have 'people' out there very often.

Is this a departure from what people had been expecting? For cost and practicality purposes I had assumed as automated as possible was a core necessity of offshore turbines

Kevin O'Donovan's picture
Kevin O'Donovan on Oct 6, 2020

Hi Matt, 

I don't think it's a departure or something 'new', I got the impression that it's more do to with it now becoming a 'must have reality'. To be commercially viable these installations really do need to be as 'autonomous' as possible, robots/drones and all. 

One of the comments was looking at the ability to land a helicopter on a tubine if you really need to, as sending someone out on a boat may simlpy not be feasible ... and then if you ever need to swap out an entire turbine, or even a blade etc, then you better book one of the few 'jack-up' vessels years in advance ... thus the need to try to ensure nothing ever breaks ... 

IMO; technially this is all possbile, but it's going to be with some 'bleeding edge' technology, adds to some of the overall complexity and it's expensve righ now. The amout of 'autonomous' may well come down to the risk assessment ... 

Now as the Industry scales up (UK announced an 'ambitious' plan today), then there will be more and more speciliazed vessels, economies of scale kick in, etc etc ... 

Interesting times.

Kev.

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 6, 2020

One of the comments was looking at the ability to land a helicopter on a tubine if you really need to, as sending someone out on a boat may simlpy not be feasible 

I can already see the action movie starring Dwayne Johnson where he has to helicopter into a hostage negotiation on an offshore wind turbine :)

 

I kid, of course, and really thank you for these insights for those of us unable to attend the conference! 

Kevin O'Donovan's picture

Thank Kevin for the Post!

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