Developments in offshore wind outside of Europe show signs of green shoots as projects slowly start to come to fruition
UK specialist consultancy
As countries throughout the world bid to cut carbon emissions and achieve their renewables targets, Damen Offshore Wind Journal takes a look at offshore wind developments outside of Europe and interviews Sue Allen from UK specialist consultancy 4C Offshore Ltd.
Undoubtedly, China is the offshore wind market which will have a massive ramp up in capacity if it achieves its ambitious targets. “The potential over the next 10 years is staggering, with China planning for 74 gigawatts by 2027,” Sue emphasises.
Currently, 3.8 gigawatts is installed and another 4.85 gigawatts is under construction.
74GW by 2027
“China is moving away from coal-fired power stations, given the pollution problems. There is a push for clean power and job creation as the rural population moves to the cities and offshore wind supports these ambitions.”
Taiwan is also ramping up its offshore wind capacity. In April 2017 the Formosa Phase 1 test project was inaugurated. The 120 megawatt Formosa Phase 2, owned by Danish wind energy giant Ørsted, is now in development and expected to be in operation in 2019.
Taiwan looks for partnership
“The Taiwanese Government is keen to move ahead and is open for collaboration with European companies. It is looking to develop renewables by gaining knowledge, experience and best practice from Europe.” As well as the Formosa Phase 2 project, the government is targeting 6 gigawatts of offshore capacity before 2025 with the feed-in tariff established.
Japan for the moment is developing more slowly than expected despite the country’s drive to move away from nuclear energy and reduce dependency on imported fuels. Development has been delayed for several reasons, but especially due to the lack of legislation. “There is no clear framework for the development of offshore wind in the general sea area (outside of port areas).
However, the government is expecting to pass legislation this year which will open up sites for development.
Japan looks to floating wind
“While Japan has a significant sea area, fixed foundations can only be installed within a few kilometres of the coastline. This makes floating foundations more attractive although the cost is currently very high.” To date, three floating projects have been installed. The limitations of the seabed mean reducing the cost of floating wind projects is high on the agenda and the government has backed an R&D project to reduce costs. The demonstration project with the Ideol floating foundation design is presently waiting to be installed this autumn.
Meanwhile in Australia, onshore wind is booming with some 4-5 gigawatts set to materialise in the next few years. But offshore wind is another story, adds Sue, with just one wind farm of 2 gigawatts in the early planning stages.
In India there is a renewables drive from the government, but projects are in the early development stage. However, earlier this year, the Indian Government invited expressions of interest from both international and Indian businesses for the development of the 1000 megawatt Gujarat Zone project. Announcements about other developments are expected this year.
The other much anticipated market – the USA – has again proven a slow starter. “The market is starting up but definitely hasn’t grown as quickly as anticipated. We saw the 30 megawatt project off Block Island completed in 2017 and there is a small demo, 125 kilowatt prototype located in Florida which was installed in 2015. The next projects, which could start construction in 2019, are the 800 megawatt Vineyard Wind – phase 1 and the 750 megawatt Maryland US Wind project.” Despite the slow start, Sue says, the market is now more positive with a credible pipeline of politically supported projects.
Jones Act restrictions?
Sue adds that there are some concerns that the Jones Act could restrict developments. “It is hard to find suitable, US-flagged vessels and crew. When a turbine foundation is placed in the seabed it effectively becomes a port, so therefore under the Jones Act vessels have to be US-built, owned, managed, crewed and operated to work between US ports, they cannot be foreign flagged.”
Block Island wind farm was installed by Fred. Olsen Windcarrier using its jack-up vessel Brave Tern and a feeder barge, thus avoiding working from port to port, she says.
If ship owners are going to invest in a large installation jack-up vessel they need to know they have got a market. It is a ‘chicken and egg’ situation.
“In the past there have been concessions on the Jones Act to enable foreign flagged vessels to work in the oil market when suitable US vessels were not available. We are also seeing collaborations such as that between US company Falcon Global (owned by Seacor Marine) and Denmark’s Fred. Olsen where each party will contribute vessels and crew to operate a suitable spread for the US market.”