From Hitachi ABB Power Grids
Wind power is one of mankind's greatest hopes for an affordable, CO2-neutral energy future and, along with solar, is one of the preferred technologies for energy companies to invest in. Although wind power is abundant on land, we need to go to seas and oceans to meet our current and future needs for sustainable energy. But that's not for everyone – it takes courage, know-how and a pioneering spirit. And not many companies are able to operate offshore facilities that have to withstand the constant stress of the toughest elements in nature.
Equinor from Norway is one of the first large oil and gas companies to enter the offshore wind market. The company has decades of experience building and operating large offshore energy infrastructures, scaling new technologies, setting standards and excellence in health and safety.
Hitachi ABB Power Grids has been supporting wind turbine manufacturers and wind farm operators with innovative solutions since the very beginning. Together with customers and partners, the wind pioneer is contributing to the change in the industry – and making wind energy a resilient and reliable energy generation technology.
Both companies plan to take the offshore wind sector to the next level.
What will the “next level” look like?
Offshore wind has proven its competitiveness compared to other sustainable energy sources such as solar and onshore wind, which are easier and cheaper to develop. However, the segment must use all available intelligences to drive further innovations and prove its competitiveness.
“If we look at the development of the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) of offshore wind energy, it has decreased significantly in the last five to seven years. There are many factors that have contributed, but the most important are technological developments, increased competition, learning rate, scope and volume, and financing costs. We believe that with further technological innovations we will see even lower LCOE by 2030 and beyond by 2050, ”said Rajnish Sharma, Vice Present of Renewable Projects at Equinor.
The technological development of wind turbines has been one of the key factors in reducing the LCOE for offshore wind. Their size has grown dramatically in recent years and has now reached 14 MW. “My personal view is that we will see 20MW + turbines by 2030,” continues Rajnish.
The increase in output makes turbines more efficient and harvests more wind energy.
“But in order to optimize the costs in the overall system, you also have to take into account the voltage level at which the devices are operated. Our studies show that with turbines over 20 MW, we can achieve higher efficiency and lower overall system costs if we use 132 kV voltage levels, ”explains Alfredo Parres, Head of Renewables at Hitachi ABB Power Grids.
And offshore wind is getting bigger, wider and deeper. Just a few years ago we developed 600 to 700 MW wind farms. Meanwhile, 1.2 GW is the typical size. The future expansion by 1.5 to 2 GW wind farms raises restrictive questions about grid connection capacity. For these wind farms, we need efficient and resilient transmission solutions such as HVDC at the highest voltage level.
“But can we go to 525 kV DC? We would like to work with technology leaders like Hitachi ABB Power Grids on this, ”says Rajnish.
“With Hywind Scotland we have shown that the technology works. For the first two years of operation, it had the highest capacity factor in the UK at an average of 54 percent, while other offshore wind farms in the UK are at 40 percent. In the last 12 months to March 2021, it was even an average of 57 percent. Due to its initial state and undeveloped supply chain, the cost of floating wind is still higher compared to fixed wind. However, we have proven that by industrializing and scaling up, we can significantly reduce costs. Between our Hywind Demo and Hywind Scotland projects, we were able to reduce capital expenditure by 70 percent. Between Hywind Scotland and Hywind Tampen, our goal is to cut capital expenditures by another 40 percent, ”he continues.
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