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Published on September 29th, 2014 | by Tina Casey

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Use The FORCE: Cost Of Offshore Wind Energy Really Could Drop 40%

September 29th, 2014 by  


We must have been asleep at the wheel when two industry powerhouses merged last year to form something called DNV GL, but we finally snapped out of it this morning when we saw this headline come across the wires: “DNV GL Pledges to Help Reduce Offshore Wind Costs by 25%.”

Actually, 25% is chump change compared to the sweet spot of 40%, which DNV GL reckons is feasible if other industry trends align with the growing offshore wind energy sector. That dovetails precisely with what CleanTechnica heard about the falling cost of offshore wind energy at the WindEnergy Hamburg 2014 trade fair last week, which came in at around 30–40%.

So, what is DNV GL and why is it so confident that the cost of offshore wind energy is set to fall off the cliff?

cost of offshore wind energy could drop 40%

Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm (cropped) courtesy of NHD-INFO via flickr, cc license.

 DNV GL And Offshore Wind Energy

DNV GL came about right around this time last September, when the industry-leading certification and advisory firms DNV and Germanischer Lloyd (GL) put their collective weight together.

Both entities separately have a long history in the fossil fuel sector, and now that experience is coming to bear on growing the renewable energy business, in the form of DNV GL-Energy. The merger enables DNV GL-Energy to describe itself thusly:

2500 energy experts in DNV GL deliver world-renowned testing and game changing expertise for the energy value chain, including renewables and energy efficiency.

Cost Of Offshore Wind Energy Falls Off Cliff

That magic number of 40 percent is also perceived by the industry as the point at which offshore wind will compete in the global marketplace.

To get there, DNV GL delivered a manifesto at WindEnergy Hamburg aptly titled “Offshore wind: a manifesto for cost reduction.”

With an eye firmly on the emerging markets in North American and Asia as well as northern Europe, the manifesto consists of 14 specific actions, which DNV GL breaks into three sections. Two of them,  “doing it right” and “doing it better” were developed in recognition that the offshore wind sector is already a mature industry with an existing platform of legacy technology and standards that will be here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Under “doing it right,” DNV GL sees opportunities for risk mitigation and security in the offshore wind sector, primarily by coordinating a joint industry project to share data and best practices. Undersea cable risks would be one area of focus.

“Doing it right” also addresses the human element, for example by mitigating worker risks during crew transfers (that’s where a long experience in offshore oil and gas development provides an assist).

For its “doing it better” actions, DNV GL-Energy will focus on helping to improve efficiencies in legacy technology and processes. That includes optimizing monopile design standards and manufacturing processes, fine-tuning site assessment and planning, and right-sizing electrical systems.

Here’s how DNV GL-Energy CEO David Walker sums up these first two sections:

Achieving cost reduction is about more than just new technology and innovation. It also requires us to get the basics right which means getting people together, assessing the issues in detail and defining best practice. This may be seen as incremental or even unglamorous, but it is exactly what a maturing industry looks like and it is exactly what is required to drive down costs.

Use The FORCE!

Okay so whatever, Walker is right, all that stuff is pretty unglamorous compared with the third action section, “doing it differently.”

As the name suggests, this has to do with industry innovation, in the form of DNV GL’s Project FORCE initiative.

 

Launched last year, FORCE is a collaborative, integrated R&D effort that demonstrates a systemwide approach to offshore wind energy cost reduction through innovation. Two areas of focus here are pushing the envelope in terms of offshore wind turbine size, and getting to the commercial price point for floating offshore wind turbines.

We should also mention that in the US, the Energy Department has also been driving down the cost of offshore wind energy on a systemwide basis, the most recent development being three offshore wind energy projects intended to test new cutting edge technologies. Just sayin’.

Offshore Wind Energy For West Virginia

While deepwater offshore wind energy is the main focus in terms of the global market, here in the US there may also be some opportunities in inland waterways such the Great Lakes, or in major rivers. So yes, a landlocked state like West Virginia could some day find itself with offshore wind turbines along its Ohio River border.

Those opportunities are facing some serious hurdles right now (barge traffic comes to mind when you’re talking river sites), but if it’s a choice between a wind turbine and a drilling rig in your river, you might want to consider the wind turbine.

You heard that right. According to our friends over at Fuel Fix (via Associated Press), West Virginia has just opened bids for gas drilling leases under the Ohio River.

What could possibly go wrong
 
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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



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