Please activate JavaScript!
Please install Adobe Flash Player, click here for download

Global Futures Report 2013 - Offshore

55 of companies are involved all along the value chain, from university research to IT companies to major industrial firms to specialized technology suppliers, that some major innovations are almost inevitable.”16 Wind Power: Offshore The IEA WEO (2010) offered this prognosis for offshore wind power: “Offshore wind turbine technology needs further development. At present, most offshore turbines are based on onshore turbine technology, modified to reflect practices and experiences in other offshore industries. The reliability of offshore turbines, which is currently lower than that of onshore wind turbines, needs to improve. More robust turbines, designed from the outset to oper- ate in offshore conditions, need to be developed for the technology to take off.… Improved foundation designs can help bring costs down. Although offshore wind turbines are currently located in shallow water areas, significant potential exists in deep waters and new designs are being developed to allow capturing this potential. Floating turbines are one such design.”17 Current offshore wind power costs are cited by REN21 (2012) as 11–22 cents/kWh. The IEA WEO (2010) projects costs declining to 6–9 cents/kWh during the period 2021–2035. The IEA ETP (2012) “Technology Roadmap” for wind power envisions improved economics of foundations, supply chains, and installation strategies through 2020, and then beyond 2020, a next generation of offshore wind turbines and floating foundations.18 Expert opinion about future markets for offshore wind power varied widely. Some experts believed that offshore wind could become fully half of the global wind power market by 2020. One said: “We will see steady incremental progress with offshore wind. Costs are higher but the wind is steadier so there is less need for balancing. Offshore wind farms are closer to coastal load centers, attractive from a technical point of view, and help to boost economies of depressed port and harbor facilities. Floating turbines are absolutely achievable, and might represent a major tipping point on offshore costs. We could see mass production, built onshore and then moved offshore, so won’t require the extensive logistics of offshore con- struction.”19 (For more pro-and-con discussion, see “Great Debate 11” on this page.) One Swedish expert was also optimistic, and saw a strong equivalence between onshore and offshore wind power markets in Sweden: “I think we’ll see a lot more offshore in the next five years. In Sweden, the cost of offshore in cents/kWh is not higher than onshore, and there is no special support for offshore relative to onshore. Offshore can be located in the path of inter-country 06 Great Debate 11 | What Are the Pros and Cons of Offshore Wind Power? Expert views on offshore wind power varied widely, and experts debated the pros and cons of offshore wind relative to onshore. The positive points cited by experts included less visual impact, less impact on shipping lanes near coastlines, higher wind speeds, bigger projects, no NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) problems, proximity to coastal urban population centers, bigger project developers providing more credibility and investor security, more predictable wind patterns, scalability to very large size plants, and public rela- tions value for oil companies and pension funds. Many utilities are optimistic about the prospects for offshore wind power. For example, E.ON recently said that offshore wind has an "enormous potential for the future.” And RWE said: “Over the next few years, [onshore wind power] will be joined by enormous offshore wind farms that offer a number of advantages. Apart from greater [public] acceptance, winds in coastal areas and at sea are stronger and more persistent.” Iberdrola called offshore wind power “the second revolution in renewables.” Negative points cited by experts included higher costs than onshore wind and higher levels of policy support needed (feed-in tariff premiums). One expert said: “I don’t expect offshore to be competitive without policy support until at least 2025–2030,” and further said: “I doubt that offshore will ever be as cheap as onshore.” Another offered: “Offshore wind markets will really be a matter of government support for a long time. It’s not clear yet how to reduce offshore costs, since only one-third of the cost is the turbine.” Utilities also point to the technical and logistics difficulties: “The stresses on the equipment from wind, waves, salt water and ice are also greater [than onshore]. It is also more difficult to perform installation and servicing work at sea, and the distance to the coast requires special rules for connection to the grid,” said Vattenfall. And “Huge challenges need to be overcome with regard to technol- ogy and materials,” said RWE. Some experts framed the question of offshore wind development as a social or institutional issue. One asked: “Should policy promote offshore to avoid the problems of onshore wind power social acceptance and land use?” Another, however, criticized the diversion of investment resources away from onshore installations that could be more locally owned and controlled. “The only reason we are seeing offshore development is because big utilities like big centralized projects—and that’s not the right reason,” said the expert. Notes and discussion: See Annex 4. Sources for quotes: See Endnote 19 for this chapter.

Pages Overview