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EWEA Offshore 2013 – in retrospect

Last week the EWEA Offshore 2013 took place in Frankfurt, Germany. Windfair was present to collect statements and catch the atmosphere. After three days the show ended last Thursday. Time to draw a retrospect.

The reason why everybody still talks about climate change is the UN climate summit which was held in Warsaw, Poland, in the last two weeks. The results of the summit were vague and most topics were postponed to the next one in 2015.

On the other hand the results of the conference in Frankfurt were quite precise. High-level representatives from politics, economy and industry came together to meet with other representatives from various organizations and companies. The latter called for ambitious goals in offshore wind energy until 2030.

The last time the European Union decided on renewable energy they set the goal for 20 percent green energy until 2020 which led to the present boom in offshore wind. The technology has come a long way to work as safe and reliable as it does by now. The soft spot is politics. That's the reason why eight wind energy companies made a public statement one week before the show demanding new political goals in renewable energy for 2030. Technology leaders like Vestas, Alstom and Dong were amongst them.

Politicians from all over the EU will come together in the next months to discuss the topic and set up new goals. Experts expect severe difficulties in the course of the discussion similar to the current coalition talks in Germany.

The most discussed topic at the fair were finances. EWEA presented their new study which pointed out that most of the money in the industry comes from Germany. Denmark, a pioneer in the offshore wind business, on the other hand has got one of the most well-off investors with Dong Energy. That's the reason for the high presence of the company at the conference. Henrik Poulsen, one of Dong's CEOs, was also the chairman of the conference and stated in his opening speech: “At Dong Energy, we remain deeply committed to this journey, and we want to share our approach and experiences.” The company underlined this commitment by presently investing more than 2.2 billion Euro into German offshore wind farm Godewind.

Despite of first not too positive results of the German coalition talks surfacing during the days of the show, the atmosphere of the event was not pessimistic at all but on the contrary. The new German government's announced reduction of previous national goals were actually widely approved in the sense of no more frustration about unreachable goals. Andreas Nauen, CEO of turbine manufacturer REpower, said in a statement: “The new goals are more realistic than 25 MW in 2030.”

That the end of technical development isn't near yet was proven by the turbine manufacturers themselves. Most of the big players were present and showed off record-breaking new turbines. French manufacturer Alstom announced the installation of the world's biggest offshore turbine in Belgium. Germany-based REpower presented their new improved 6.5MW model with a rotor diameter of 152m. Korean company Samsung even went one step further: They erected their test turbine on sight in Scotland – capacity 7MW. Vestas and Mitsubishi on the other hand showed off their new joint venture, but gave little to no insight information into the development of their 8 MW turbine.

Daily announcements of record-breaking turbines made attendees' heads spinning during these days.

The Windfair Newsletter will provide more detailed information on the record-breaking offshore turbines in its next issue.

Longer blades and more capacity everywhere with otherwise extremely high costs which have to go down: The industry has already been developing new technologies and innovations to show in Frankfurt. Cost reduction is possible – like Spanish company Inneo Torres demonstrated with the development of a new tower working like a telescope.

This enables a complete onshore assembly of the turbine, simplified transport and easier erection on site. Costs will go down regarding heavy vessels and crane rents.

The company indicates to reduce costs up to 20-25 percent. The prototype of the tower will be built next summer.

Germany-based company Ramboll Wind announced a possible cost reduction in the construction of foundations: Lower weight means lower costs. Less welds and the reduction of steel requirements help save money.

23-25 percent of production costs can be saved by building monopiles and jackets their way, Ramboll Wind claims.

As a conclusion EWEA Offshore 2013 was a success. The industry has proven to be competitive and many technical improvements are yet to come. The whole branch makes billions of Euro and there is no end in sight. Norbert Giese, Director of the Business Unit Offshore at REpower, put it that way: “We sticked to our part of the bargain. Now it's time for the politicians to show that they really want offshore wind energy with ambitious goals.”

Windfair Editorial Staff

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