GLWN Taps European Know-How for U.S. Offshore Wind Projects
Trade mission to Germany and Denmark helps identify key considerations for port-based projects
This past April, representatives from GLWN had the opportunity to travel to
Germany and Denmark with a contingent from the New Bedford (MA) Economic
Development Council as part of an international trade mission to observe and
evaluate the operations of several major offshore wind installations and the
manufacturers that supply turbine components.
The purpose of their trip was to engage with key principals responsible for
the planning, construction, management and success of the facilities, to tap
into their wealth of knowledge and experience for the purpose of fortifying the
manufacturing supply chain and providing expert counsel for offshore wind
projects planned throughout the United States.
Dee Holody, GLWN Director of Operations, and Patrick Fullenkamp, GLWN
Director of Technical Services, spent a week touring the European facilities,
interviewing the sources responsible for their operation, talking with political
leaders and developers backing the operations, and generally gaining intense
knowledge of the intricacies involved with building offshore wind facilities
back home. Here are their observations and key takeaways from that trade
"The U.S. needs a stable and consistent political framework that supports offshore wind."
Jens Eckoff, President, German Offshore Federation
- Holody and Fullenkamp were invited by the New Bedford EDC as
the organization prepares to break ground on its "Marine
Commerce Terminal," a $100 million port project that promises to
support a budding offshore wind industry. The Port of New
Bedford claims the project will be worth tens of billions of
dollars for equipment manufacturers like General Electric,
Siemens and American Superconductor, when mature.
- This race-to-market is being fueled by the U.S. Department
of Energy's National Offshore Wind Strategy, which contains an
overall objective of lowering the cost to produce wind energy to
10 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2020, and a long-term goal of 7
cents by 2030. The DOE is investing in projects to remove market
barriers that limit the deployment of offshore wind in the
nation's coastal and Great Lakes regions.
- Massachusetts is attempting to position itself as a major
player in this development through its research being conducted
at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Wind Technology
Testing Center in Charlestown, MA which is conducting tests on
blade technologies needed to withstand the pounding from coastal
winds. The Commonwealth is also investing heavily in the port
facilities, infrastructure and supporting industries necessary
to establish a viable offshore wind industry.
- The trade mission team toured facilities in Cuxhaven,
Bremerhaven and Hamburg, Germany and Brande, Aarhus and
Copenhagen, Denmark. At each stop the group met with their
counterparts and other key officials, conducting team meetings
and panel discussions, while examining various strategic plans
developed by each facility and participating in technical
discussions that focused on infrastructure, manufacture case
studies, land use, utilization of the local supply chain, and
import and export considerations.
- One highlight of the trip was a visit to the Anholt Offshore
Wind Farm (AOWF), the largest offshore wind project in Denmark
located in the Kattegat waters between Djursland and Anholt
island. When fully commissioned at the end of 2013, the $1.65
billion project, contracted through Siemens Wind Power, will, in
part, permit the replacement of most of the current
diesel-powered electricity on the island. In May 2013, AOWF
became Denmark's largest wind farm when 59 turbines were grid
connected, totaling 212MW. In one instance a construction vessel
managed to erect a complete tower and install a wind turbine in
just seven hours.
"Wind energy is a project, not a business. [It] requires continuous sales, and execution. You have to constantly be looking for the next project."
Annette Schimmel, Head of Strategic Projects, BLG Logistics
Supply Chain lessons learned from the trade mission:
- High performance and efficiency matters. The Siemens manufacturing operation
has gone through multiple phases of Lean Manufacturing thereby reducing their
cost, improving the quality of the product, and reducing delivery time to their
customers. Siemens will expect nothing less from their suppliers – high quality,
a continuous improvement process, competitive pricing and consistent on-time
- Opportunities for Growth. This trip enabled the team to witness the sheer
magnitude of the offshore tower and foundation manufacturers. These large
component parts require water and/or rail access, and close proximity to
portside, thus creating growth opportunities for the host port.
- Just–in-time deployment. On the visit to the Anholt staging yard, the group
witnessed a functioning port, dedicated to the offshore staging and final
assembly of components prior to deployment to the wind farm. The towers, blades
and nacelle were being staged at the port and deployed onto the installation
vessels as needed (just-in-time). The Siemens example of the laydown yard and
how they staged the loading areas are key to how prospective ports should be
developed to support an efficient and just-in-time parts deployment.
- Multi-purpose by design. The group toured two mature and highly integrated
multi-purpose ports in Cuxhaven and Bremerhaven. Both terminals were able to
accommodate a full staging area, plus a tower, blade and foundation manufacturer
with the infrastructure necessary to deploy their finished product. In
particular, available port access via heavy duty roads (and rail lines) to the
quayside were used for direct load onto installation vessels. The heavy duty
access roads allowed for use of “SPMT” (self-propelled motorized transport)
vehicles so components could be readily moved in the proper sequence to the
vessel loading cranes.
- Access to local/regional content. Turbine OEMs which were visited by the team
indicated that a majority of their material and sub-components comes locally
from within Germany or Denmark and arrive via truck, rail or barge. It is
important to recognize that, just as in Germany and Denmark, there will be
domestic opportunities to provide the smaller components to the port terminal
for manufacturing or final assembly, thus the infrastructure to move and deliver
the sub-components to the port will be important.
- Major challenges. Offshore wind sector barriers include the coordination of
interdisciplinary teams (such as manufacturing, energy supplier, maritime
industry, etc.); sufficient storage space for large part components; sufficient
port equipment; qualified workers; innovative logistics solutions; and
experienced and financially strong logistics partners.
"WeserWind "would not use Chinese steel for any primary or secondary finished systems. Very questionable quality." They've learned their lesson.
Rene Surma, Head of Sales, WeserWind Gmbh
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