Blown away

10 August 2021


The majority of growth outside of Europe in the offshore wind market will come from China and Taiwan, with contributions from the US becoming sizeable from 2024 when the first utility-scale offshore project begins. Jenny Eagle takes a closer look at this industry sector.

The global outlook for the offshore wind sector up to 2030 has grown more promising over the past year as governments raise their ambition levels and new countries join the industry. With an average annual growth rate of 18.6% until 2024 and 8.2% up to the end of the decade, annual installations are expected to sail past the milestones of 20 GW in 2025 and 30 GW in 2030, claims GWEC Market Intelligence.

It reports over 205 GW of offshore wind capacity will be added over the next decade with three-quarters of this volume installed in the latter half (2025-2030), as projects currently in the planning stages get connected to the grid.

For example, BW Ideol signed a memorandum of understanding with Hitachi ABB Power Grids in June for an industry-first collaboration on developing scalable floating substations.

Hitachi ABB Power Grids will provide substation packages for installation on BW Ideol’s shallow-draft floating platforms.

According to BW Ideol, the floating substations will be implemented with bottom-fixed wind farms to mitigate challenging seabed conditions and/or challenging offshore installation operations. The substations will comprise transformers, switchgear and other high-voltage products developed by Hitachi ABB Power Grids for floating offshore platforms.

“We are accelerating the delivery of a market-ready floating substation,” said Paul de la Guérivière, Chief Executive Officer, BW Ideol. “It brings together two market and technology leaders to create a standardized and scalable solution for all floating offshore wind power requirements.”

The installed capacity of floating offshore wind installations is forecast to grow from 66 MW in 2019 to at least 6.2 GW in 2030 as more countries in Europe, Asia and North America are expected to develop deepwater wind resources.

Offshore wind already accounted for 10% of global new wind power installations in 2019. Buoyed by expansion into new markets and acceleration of the global energy transition, GWEC Market Intelligence foresees offshore wind playing an increasingly important role in the overall growth of the global wind market and expects offshore wind to contribute to more than 20% of total wind installations by 2025.

As the world’s largest regional offshore wind market, Europe is expected to maintain steady growth, but new installations, predominantly from Asia and North America, will surpass this region and continue exceeding volume through to 2030. In the near-term (2020-2024), the majority of growth outside of Europe will primarily come from China and Taiwan, with contributions from the US becoming sizeable from 2024 when the first utility-scale offshore project comes online.

Joe Biden’s administration approved a $2.8bn construction of the US’s first large-scale offshore windfarm, in May, a joint venture between energy firms Iberdrola and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, with 84 turbines to be installed off the coast of Massachusetts (part of President Biden’s energy plan is to ramp up offshore wind as a central part of the US decarbonisation plan).

The project will generate about 800 MW of energy, enough to power around 400,000 homes and businesses, and is the first of many as it aims to generate 30 GW of energy from offshore wind by 2030. Two other offshore proposals, located in New York, are also under review.

LIEBHERR MARITIME CRANES

As a partner for the wind energy sector, the Liebherr Group offers components for wind turbines, and foundation manufacture with concrete mixing plants, truck mixers, and installation of wind turbines. Liebherr Maritime Cranes celebrated #globalwindday in June claiming the efficiency and size of wind turbines is steadily increasing, making installation ‘a feat - on land and at sea’.

“Global Wind Day is a day for learning about the importance of wind energy and its possibilities for reshaping our energy systems. The wind energy sector is currently on a strong growth path and 2020 was a record year. According to the Global Wind Energy Council, new wind energy installations totalling 93 GW were built across the globe, some 53% more than in the previous year,” wrote Natalie Litzl, report author, Liebherr Group.

“It’s not just the number of wind turbines that is increasing year by year. Their efficiency is increasing along with their size. And if the turbines are following the slogan “Higher, faster, further,” then the cranes need to keep up. For example, our lattice boom mobile crane LG 1750 was used in north-east Germany to install two turbines with hob heights of 170 metres and unusually heavy tower components up to 120 tonnes.

In any lifting operation, the wind speed at the location can affect the process significantly. To meet this challenge, the LG 1750 has a reinforced lattice boom that enables it to be used safely in wind forces up to 10 metres per second – sometimes as much as 11.2 m/s. When the individual rotor blades are lifted onto the turbine and secured to the hub. By their very nature, these present the biggest targets for the wind.

Constant sea breezes mean offshore locations are perfect for wind farms. However, working at sea brings other challenges: the unpredictable and changeable weather, waves and swell. Offshore wind farms are often built using jack-up vessels. The Vole au Vent, working off the coast of Taiwan, is one such vessel. And on board the Vole au Vent is a Liebherr heavy-lift offshore crane, the CAL 45000.

Jack-up vessels need to be able to work independently of the ocean swell, so they have lifting equipment that holds the vessel a few metres out of the water. The crane itself is designed so that its huge bulk can be positioned compactly on the vessel. The ship and crane work together as a single unit and are designed to match from the shipbuilding stage.

In port, the wind turbine elements are loaded onto the vessel using mobile harbour cranes. The jack-up vessel then transports the turbine elements to their offshore destination. Even when working offshore, the first stage of building the wind turbine is to create a foundation.

These are often made of monopiles – steel piles that the crane drives into the sea floor to depths of up to 60 metres. An intermediate element is then lifted onto the foundation and the tower elements are set on top of this. Finally, the machine house and rotor blades are lifted into place and secured. The CAL 45000 lifts up to 1,200 tonnes during these jobs; its big brother in the offshore crane series, the CAL 64000, can lift as much as 1,500 tonnes. But these numbers pale in the face of Liebherr’s new HLC series of offshore cranes, which will be able to lift loads up to 5,000 tonnes.

“The Biden administration Offshore Wind project will generate enough power to meet the demand of more than 10 million American homes for a year, and avoid 78 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. To accomplish this, much more powerful Lattice Boom Crawler Cranes will be required than those that are typically used in the onshore wind industry. The current parameters we’re hearing from customers point to the LR 11350 (1,350 mt capacity) as the primary offload crane, but it has a slim capacity margin. We know in the crane and rigging industry that nothing ever gets smaller and lighter, only bigger and heavier, so we’ve been recommending the LR 13000 (3,000 mt capacity) to give more flexibility with lifting radius options,” says Jim Strobush, product manager, Crawler Cranes, Liebherr USA Mobile and Crawler Cranes Division.

WILLIAM HACKETT FOUR PAWL

Earlier this year, William Hackett launched its first ever subsea lever hoist to incorporate four pawl mechanical engagement, which is of interest to contractors working offshore.

“This patented pawl design enhances the capabilities of the hoist allowing all four pawls to engage with the ratchet gear in an offset configuration. So, if both pawl springs were to fail the quad pawl would maintain full engagement with the ratchet gear,” says Craig Adams. commercial sales manager, William Hackett Lifting Products.

“We have seen increased demand for lightweight and smaller hoists which led to the development of the WH-L4 compact lever hoist, these handy hoists are available in 250kg and 500kg and have proved extremely popular with wind technicians due to their weight and size. Another area of growth has been YP lifting points which enable lateral lifting that traditional eye bolts are incapable of making them more desirable for on and offshore lifting projects.

“After engagement with many offshore contractors we have found ongoing issues with hydrogen embrittlement and its effects on lifting equipment offshore, Ben Burgess one of the company directors has already issued a report giving technical guidance on the materials that should be used within these corrosive environments.”

JDR OST 1 OFFSHORE WIND PROJECT

JDR, the global subsea umbilical supplier and servicer, owned by TFKable Group, won a contract in June with Parkwind to supply, test and terminate 33kV subsea cables for the Arcadis Ost 1 offshore wind farm in Germany.

The company will supply the 45km of 33kV array cable that will connect the 27 wind turbines. It will also provide technicians, tooling and test equipment for the testing and termination of the array cable.

The project is located approximately 19km northeast of the island Rügen in the federal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and will have a capacity of 257 MW. This wind farm will be Parkwind’s fifth, bringing its operational capacity under management to over 1 GW.

“The German Baltic Sea is a central hub for the offshore wind industry, and we can see it going from strength to strength. Just last year, German North Sea wind farms produced more electricity in one year than ever before. So, we’re not only delighted to be a part of this growth, but we’re also proud to mark our first contract with Parkwind, providing the technical expertise of our team to help deliver success for their first international offshore wind project,” says Wojtek Skoczylas, chief sales officer, JDR.

By contracting JDR for both the cable supply and the termination and testing works, Parkwind will benefit from continuity throughout the project, from manufacturing to installation, ensuring the integrity of the cables through to final commissioning and energisation.

“With JDR joining the Arcadis Ost 1 project, we have now surrounded ourselves with some of the world’s best subsea cable manufacturers to complete our wind farm. The technical strength of our suppliers has always been a strong focus to Parkwind but the particular conditions of the Baltic Sea require special attention to the design and manufacturing of the cables. Parkwind has full confidence that this will be successfully accomplished by JDR and we are delighted to have them onboard,” adds Luc Smismans, electrical package manager, Parkwind.

The cables will be manufactured at JDR’s facility in Hartlepool, where they will be picked up by the cable installation contractor ready for installation in Germany in 2022.

JDR will also supply, test and terminate the 66kV dynamic cables in consortium with SDI, part of the DEME Group for the Leucate floating wind farm. The consortium was awarded the contract by Réseau de Transport d’Électricité (RTE) and Eoliennes Flottantes du Golfe du Lion’s (EFGL), a consortium comprising Engie, EDP Renewables, and Caisse des Dépôts. Once completed, Leucate will be one of the largest offshore floating wind farms in France.

Located off the coast of the Leucate-Le Barcarès area, the demonstration floating wind farm will feature three V164-10.0 MW wind turbines, in water depths of 65 to 80 metres. JDR will design and manufacture the dynamic and static cables to connect the floating turbines to the shore, where they will connect to a grid at Saint-Laurent de la Salanque. SDI will undertake the overall delivery and installation of the cables provided by JDR.

JDR’s ‘wet design’ 66kV cable removes the need for a lead radial water barrier – the component most susceptible to dynamic fatigue due to the movement of a floating turbine. The specially designed breakaway system will then protect the floating platform in the unlikely event of a mooring line failure in harsh weather conditions.

“The floating offshore wind market is accelerating at a rapid pace. As waters get deeper, innovations in 66kV dynamic cables like ours will be required to meet demand. It’s an exciting time for the industry and subsea cable technology,” says Wojtek Skoczylas, CSO, JDR Cables.

The cables will also be manufactured at JDR’s facility in Hartlepool, UK, in 2022 before being shipped to France for installation in 2022. The contract comes as part of France’s target to have up to 12.4 GW of fixed-bottom and floating offshore wind capacity either in operation or under development by the end of 2028.

THE CROSBY GROUP

According to Richard Berg, business development manager, The Crosby Group, it is seeing an increased adoption of intelligent technology to make lifts safer and more efficient. For example, through its investment in Verton, it is commissioning a remote-controlled lifting yoke together with MHI Vestas that will help in offshore installation and enable installations at higher wind speeds.

“We are also seeing increased interests in customized solutions, such as our non-marring lifting clamps used by foundation monopile and transition piece manufacturers to leave less marks on the steel for improved quality, and our Easy- Loc shackle system for quicker rig up time,” he says. “We believe wind and especially offshore floating and bottom-fixed is poised for substantial growth the coming decade with more and more governments building up green energy plans and Oil & Gas majors diversifying away from their depends on oil.

“The main challenge we are seeing is schedule attainment, with equipment in sometimes very high quantities needed within a short time frame. With our vertically integrated, global manufacturing footprint we have the scale and flexibility to cope with this kind of requirement which gives us a real edge. Another challenge we are seeing is freight and raw material prices steadily on the rise, making it important for OEMs and contractors to continue to find ways to make the lifting, rigging and mooring more efficient, while still not making any compromises on safety.”

One example of how The Crosby Group supports the offshore wind industry was recently demonstrated by an order for chain accessories from Crosby|Feubo. These were used for a floating offshore wind turbine (FOWT) project from a European client.

The scope of work included the design, manufacturing and testing of long-term mooring shackles. Driven by a project timeframe restriction from the client and given a three-month window, the package was successfully delivered on-time and within initial budget.

It also launched into the wind energy market the HFL Kenter, a high fatigue life shackle, under the Crosby|Feubo brand. The shackle showcases design improvements on the popular Crosby|Feubo NDur Link, an accessory used for temporary and mobile mooring applications such as rigging and anchoring offshore platforms or vessels. The product can connect to a variety of stud link anchor chain or other mooring accessories such as sockets and swivels.

Another example of how The Crosby Group recently supported the offshore wind industry is with the delivery of turnbuckles for a leading wind turbine OEM to be used at Kriegers Flak wind farm outside of the coast of Denmark. Despite the tight delivery schedule, the company delivered 700 turnbuckles to be used together with wire slings to tighten both sides of tower sections, ensuring they don’t ovalize during transport and storage.

JDR testing subsea cables for Arcadis Ost 1 offshore wind farm in Germany.
iStock photo
The Liebherr LG1750
A Crosby 6t capacity universal horizontal clamp (model IPHGUX1)
WH chain slings lifting a wind turbine blade
William Hackett SS-L5 QP Lever Hoist
Liebherr offshore crane, CAL 45000
William Hackett L4 Compact Lever Hoist
Easy-Loc V2
Verton Windmaster Solution