Wallenius Wilhelmsen See Global Expansion in Offshore Wind Supply Chain
Offshore wind energy is expanding globally, with Europe and China currently leading the way when it comes to development of the sector. But how are manufacturers of offshore wind products optimising their supply chains to manage growth in other parts of the world?
During the third quarter of the year, renewable energy contributed 40% of the electricity requirements of British homes and businesses, with fossil fuel-fired plants – principally gas-fired power stations – contributing 39%, and nuclear power just under 20%.
From the coasts of South-East England to Scotland, it was wind energy that underpinned this growth of green energy. A string of landmark developments in the British wind sector over the last decade has given the UK an overall wind power capacity of 8,496MW, which compares favourably to Germany, the closest European competitor, with a wind power capacity of 6,586MW.
In fact, the UK leads the world when it comes to the installation of offshore wind turbines. That’s a position that’s likely to be maintained, as construction began last year on additional offshore wind farms destined to boost UK wind power capacity by 2,882MW.
While the main focus is on the transportation of wind turbine components such as blades, nacelles, gearboxes, generators, towers, and so on, which seem to be getting ever-larger, and therefore pose increasing challenges to available infrastructure, equipment such as subsea and submarine cables for connecting offshore wind farms to the onshore electricity grid are also a vital part of the system, and require a high quality service to optimise their supply chain. Experts believe the offshore wind sector may need to adopt lessons from other industries like construction and mining, where machines and equipment have also grown in size over time and are now often transported in smaller sections or kits and put together at the final destination.
The Port of Esbjerg in Denmark has become Europe’s leading port for shipping offshore and onshore wind turbines. Danish company Vestas is one of the leading global wind turbine manufacturers, and there are also prominent manufacturers in Germany, who transport their machines to the port by road for global export.
Specialist handling equipment at Esbjerg includes Scandinavia’s largest fleet of mobile harbour cranes, capable of lifting 448 tonnes, and self-propelled wind module transporters. In the future, specialised RoRo vessels are likely to be used for transporting larger, very heavy wind turbine components, Jul Pedersen says, because cranes may not be capable of lifting them on to container or conventional vessels.
Forecast growth in the wind industry up until 2030 will place considerable demands on the supply chain. “Once the turbines needed are broken down into constituent parts, including blades, sections of tower, and hubs and nacelles, it equates to two-and-a-half million items of cargo globally over the next decade,” Jul Pedersen estimates.
When it comes to combating climate change, there’s no doubt an even bigger, bolder offshore wind sector is crucial to securing a greener future.
Source Wallenius Wilhelmsen