Out with financial bid criteria, in with unrestrained innovation in offshore wind

A healthy market framework is necessary for offshore wind projects to be sustainable and future-proof, and changes to the tendering framework can help ensure that, Ireen Geerbex, Director Market Development the Netherlands at Vattenfall, said during this year’s Offshore Energy Exhibition and Conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


”We need quality and we need added value, we need innovation and new ideas to be implemented to make sure that future wind farms are healthy projects and help a healthy industry,” Geerbex said during the session titled ‘Offshore energy: Business for the better’.

”The tender framework is a super strong instrument to impact the way projects are being developed. We need lots of qualitative criteria that raise the bar each and every time and we need to get rid of financial bid elements because they drain money and value from the projects and the industry where we need it.”

The discussion revolved around the ways in which offshore energy projects, more particularly offshore wind projects, can be built in a more sustainable and nature-friendly manner. Aside from Geerbex, the panel included Marjolein Kelder from The Rich North Sea, Folkert Visser from Ecowende, and Bas Nekeman from DEME Group.

Offshore wind projects should not only be seen as potential detriments to the surrounding nature, but a chance to enhance it as well, Kelder pointed out.

What is needed is collaboration not only between the developers and the nature preservation groups, but also the cross-country collaboration, Kelder said.

Ecowende, a joint venture between Shell and Eneco, is the developer of the Hollandse Kust (west) Wind Farm Site VI, said to be the first wind farm in the world that will be in harmony with nature.

”Through the tender system that we were subjected to in the Netherlands we were stimulated to think this way, and I can say on a personal level it has opened my eyes to all of the opportunities that are actually out there,” Visser said in response to the question about companies setting net-zero and nature enhancement targets.

”What we pride ourself in saying in our tender is that everything is interconnected, that means what happens below the sea and on the seafloor and happens above is somewhat connected.”

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Collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and innovations will be key in making offshore wind projects financially and ecologically sustainable, and the goal should not be for the projects to have a net neutral effect on the environment but rather a net positive and enhancing impact, according to the panelists.

”In most of the wind farms that we have helped build, there is an abundance of underwater life. And that makes us realize that by doing it even smarter, adding all kinds of kickstarting systems to whatever we need to install in an efficient way is kickstarting nature,’’ Nekeman said.

”And we love to think that in the future, we stop building wind farms, but we build nature parks with some turbines in it.”

Leadership, putting the dots on the horizon, and investing massively is the way to go in achieving these goals, Nekeman said.

Geerbex described the current situation in the offshore wind market as ”the perfect storm” and that reform is needed ”to safeguard the realization of future projects.”

”We have to realize that the offshore wind market is not a mature market yet. It’s not a mature technology, we are not done in perfecting it, yet,” Geerbex said.

”We need to keep thinking and we need to keep innovating, and that’s not only about technology, but we have to think broader and bigger.”

When asked if she had the authority to change the way projects are selected now, Geerbex said that she would ”impressively increase the pre-selection criteria in all tenders.”

”Sustainability, nature protection enhancements would go up massively. I would add technology innovation as well. System integration needs to be part of the exercise because it is not just offshore wind farms, we are transitioning the energy system here.”

Geerbex also proposed adding the ‘open-box’ criterion to the tendering procedure.

”I know it is extremely subjective and hard to review, but that is where the magic happens. If you invite developers, supply chain, the wider industry to come up with their very best proposals, they will impress every one of us.”

The whole session ‘Offshore Energy: Business for the better’, held during the Offshore Energy Exhibition and Conference in Amsterdam, is available for viewing below:

View on Vimeo.

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