New facilities at European ports are urgently required as offshore wind turbine components get larger and installation volumes increase
Investment of €0.5-€1Bn (US$0.45-0.9Bn) in new port infrastructure could help the offshore wind sector to cut costs by up to 5.3%, according to figures released by the WindEurope Ports Platform at the Global Wind Summit in Hamburg.
European ports are set to take on an expanded role in the offshore wind supply chain. By 2030 Europe is expected to have installed 70 GW of offshore wind. This means there will be more than 10,000 turbines in the water. This is equivalent to a build-out rate of 6 GW per year, 20% of which will be repowering existing sites with brand new turbines.
To enable the growth of Europe’s offshore wind capacity, ports will need to invest between €0.5-€1Bn in upgrading, redesigning and adapting existing facilities as well as in new infrastructure. This investment would enable ports to offer efficiencies such as more capable vessels that can complete installations faster. Or in consolidating operations, maintenance and service in dedicated port hubs.
As highlighted recently by OWJ, significant investment is also needed in port facilities to handle the expected development of floating offshore windfarms which, it is claimed, will be held up by the limitations of current port infrastructure, recent research has revealed.
According to the newly-published Floating Wind Joint Industry Report, published on behalf of the Carbon Trust, LOC Renewables, together with WavEC and Cathie Associates, few European ports are capable of accommodating all the quayside manufacturing and assembly required for building and operating large-scale floating windfarms.
With significant growth potential, floating offshore wind will enable development in high-wind zones where the sea is too deep for fixed foundations. Currently the largest floating offshore wind project has a capacity of 30 MW, but organised infrastructure planning will be vital to accommodate vastly bigger projects and allow the floating offshore wind industry to reach commercial viability.
LOC’s research revealed that existing port infrastructure is insufficient for floating offshore wind. Of 96 European ports analysed, only a few in Scotland, Norway and Spain were suitable for developing and operating floating offshore windfarms. Investment is not just required for the future installation, operation and maintenance of offshore wind turbines.
WindEurope Ports Platform said new port facilities are also going to be needed to facilitate operations for the annual decommissioning of 750 MW of capacity and annually recycle more than 600 turbines that have reached end of life between now and 2030.
Following these investments in port infrastructure, the capex for installing 30 GW of offshore wind would be reduced by €5.5Bn, which is equivalent to a 5.3% reduction in the levelised cost of energy.
WindEurope chief executive Giles Dickson said, “Ports are an essential part of the offshore wind supply chain. They are natural centres of industrial activity and help to bring together knowledge and labour to offshore wind.
“With offshore wind turbine components getting larger and installation volumes going up there’s a need for new investments in port infrastructure. This is also essential as ports will play a key role in accommodating operations related to the decommissioning of offshore windfarms and recycling of components. These investments will help the offshore wind sector to cut costs. And help ports to attract new business activities. We’d be keen to see new public-private partnerships and the allocation of existing EU funds to make this happen.”
WindEurope Ports Platform chair Wim Stubbe, who is from the Port of Oostende in Belgium, said “Ports are continuously deploying new innovations. They adapt their infrastructure to cater for ever larger components, multifunctional vessels and an increased number of activities.
“The WindEurope Ports Platform provides an opportunity to exchange best practices, know-how and to jointly discuss opportunities and challenges that ports face as the offshore wind industry grows. We are keen to do this at a European rather than national level.
“We need to work together to prepare for future markets such as the decommissioning of offshore windfarms. It also helps ports to cement their position in the offshore wind supply chain, give visibility to their operations and to underline that they stand ready to serve the offshore wind industry.”
The Ports Platform aims to enable ports with active operations and interests in offshore wind to come together to share best practices and engage with industry and policy-makers with one voice. Through regular meetings and networking events, offshore wind ports can share knowledge, align on communication priorities, and speak with one voice throughout the industry. Its members are: Groningen Seaports, Green Port Hull, Port of Saint-Nazaire, Port of Amsterdam, Port Atlantique La Rochelle, Port of Den Helder, Port of Esbjerg, Port of Grenaa, Port La-Nouvelle, Port of Oostende and Renewable Energy Base Oostende.