Securing the future of offshore wind: steps to reducing the cost of energy

Johan Sandberg of DNV GL

Offshore wind as a source of energy is still unknown in many parts of the world. In other parts it is still a distant dream and only a small amount of the global population understand the enormous potential this technology has, and how it can impact the world and our efforts to achieve a low carbon future.

In order to realize its potential we need however to reach the targeted cost reduction of 40-50 per cent below today’s level in the North Sea. As such, we have long worked to ensure the industry is as cost competitive as possible, as soon as possible. After all, we can all appreciate the important role offshore wind must play in the low carbon energy system of the future.
Offshore wind turbine with engineer
This is not to say that the offshore wind industry is unaware of what needs to be done to reduce costs, and progress is being made, but the challenge remains significant.

Achieving this cost reduction is about more than just new technology and innovation: it’s about securing the future of offshore wind, and to give an alternative to fossil fuels in many of the markets where onshore renewable energy resources are limited. It requires us to get the basics right, get people together, assess the issues in detail and define best practice. Incremental changes may be seen as rather unglamorous work, focusing on the small steps, , but it is exactly what a maturing industry looks like and is vital if we are to drive down costs.

It is this thinking that has been the basis for our recently published ‘Manifesto for Cost Reduction’, which aims to do more than simply identify and quantify cost reduction opportunities. Rather, it also sets out the wider industry challenge we see and commits us to action on what we believe are some of the most important issues.

The strategies we highlight in our recently published Manifesto on cost reduction fall in to three, clearly defined, categories:

·         Do it right: Representing a potential cost saving of around 7%, these actions focus on reducing risk and preventing mistakes

·         Do it better: By improving the efficiency of existing processes, there is the potential to reduce costs by up to 6%

·         Do it differently: Through the implementation of alternative, innovative ways of doing things, costs can be reduced by 12%

Through working with industry partners, the actions we outline and commit to in this manifesto have the potential to reduce the cost of offshore energy by up to 25%. When combined with developments in other areas of the industry, such as improved supply chain efficiency, there exists the potential to deliver a total reduction of 40% - the necessary threshold recognised by many to secure the future of the industry.

We are also looking at adding a chapter to the manifesto, focusing only on the Baltic Sea, lakes and other fresh water environments where offshore wind can be built much more cost effective than in the harsh North Sea conditions. The ambition is to have this chapter ready for presentation at EWEA Offshore 2015.

The DNV GL Energy ‘Manifesto for Cost Reduction’ is available to download, free of charge, from here.

Johan Sandberg is Service Line Leader for Offshore Renewable Energy at DNV GL Energy, based at DNV GL’s headquarters in Oslo, Norway.

 

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