NWEA: We need to standardize offshore wind industry to reach targets

2023 was an exciting year for offshore wind, but there are still major challenges to tackle, said Jan Vos, Chairman of the board of the Netherlands Wind Energy Association (NWEA), at the Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference (OEEC) 2023, proposing standardization in the industry.

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Vos affirmed that wind generation at sea is on time and budget and that the fundamentals of the business are still very strong, but also acknowledged that the industry is still facing challenges, especially in the supply chain:

“We saw that the bidding for the latest standard in the UK went wrong because the prices in the bidding system were not set right by the Department of Finance, and we saw in the United States of America Orsted took a major hit because they had to abandon some projects because the permitting was not on time… We’ve been seeing more greedy governments, we’ve been seeing slower permitting, which really hit our industry quite hard.”

“Qualitative criteria or non-price criteria, as we would like to call them, are very, very important, and this means that a project should, for example, be very important to the ecological system of the North Sea. We should have system integration in order to really match with the current demand and supply in our energy system. International responsible conduct is very, very important. However, if you start doing all these things which are not really cost-free, and also ask a lot of money… then you’re bringing companies to the edge of what’s really possible.

According to Vos, the offshore wind market is exploding at the moment, but the supply chain cannot deliver on it, and that is why governments need to have a secure roadmap and not take that much money from the developers.

“The developers will bring their costs all the way down the supply chain, and the supply chain companies cannot do this anymore. They (the government) need to be really predictable in the outlook in order for us as an industry to perform. So, good fundamentals. but at the moment really stormy weather,” Vos said.

To achieve targets in the industry and to ensure that everybody in the supply chain knows what they can expect, NWEA, which represents 300 companies, proposed the introduction of a maximum wind turbine tip height of 1,000 feet combined with a tip clearance of 25 meters, calling it the ‘North Seas Standard.’

Vos noted: “We cannot keep on growing because these vessels that transport the turbines, they have to be replaced every four or five years. The cranes have to be replaced every two years. The shipyards are not large enough… So, we really need to standardize our industry and we need to make sure that the turbines are not going to keep on growing forever and ever. We seem to have reached something of an optimum there.”

As for the effects of standardization on market competitiveness, Vos claimed that there is enough to compete because turbines can be designed in different ways, pointing out: “We need a certain size because otherwise we’ll keep on constructing bigger vessels, cranes, foundation factories, and we have to build marinas, harbors, that are just not present in Europe. So, there’s enough competition, enough innovation, however, within a certain frame.”

Watch the full session “Market Update by NWEA” in the video below:

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