Interview: Adwen’s 8 MW Turbine an Arrow to Hit 100€/MWh by 2020 Target

Adwen’s 8 MW turbine is already competitive in the offshore wind market, which is continuously working on lowering the Cost of Energy (CoE), Rémi Coulon, Chief Commercial Officer of the joint venture between Gamesa and Areva, told Offshore WIND in an interview.

Rémi Coulon, CCO, Adwen (Photo: Adwen)

Meeting the goal of €100/MWh by 2020 for offshore wind power is attainable, and the debate on offshore wind will shift from why it is needed to how it should be developed, according to Coulon. Read the full interview below.

Offshore WIND: Would you say that 2015 was a fruitful year for Adwen since the establishing of the joint venture in March 2015, and has setting up a business solely dedicated to offshore wind fulfilled expectations of both Gamesa and Areva?

Rémi Coulon: It was indeed fruitful, with complex challenges but also important achievements. Integrations are never easy, and we have moved forward considerably and started positioning Adwen as a key player in the industry. In 2015, we successfully commissioned two large projects, Trianel Windpark Borkum (200 MW) and Global Tech I (400 MW) in Germany, proving the market that we can deliver. This was especially important since Adwen was a new player, and I think it helped build our reputation from the outset.

We also started the first works for the Wikinger project (for Iberdrola), which will keep us busy for the rest of the year and part of 2017, and will be the first project fully undertaken by Adwen. Finally, we made important advances in the development of our 8 MW platform with critical components being manufactured and tested. Thus, I would say we have delivered the results expected by our shareholders.

Offshore WIND: Adwen announced in October 2015 that the drivetrain testing for its 8 MW wind turbine will start in December 2015. Has the process begun and, if so, how long it will take to finalize it?

Rémi Coulon: The process begun as announced last December and will continue according to the schedule during the first half of the year. Having the chance to benefit from IWES DyNaLab, one of the world’s largest and the most versatile facilities for nacelle testing, is an invaluable asset for us, especially for de-risking before prototype erection.

By simulating operational conditions, but as well offshore conditions for extreme and fatigue loads, a critical move forward will be achieved in the verification of the gearbox, bearings, couplings, shaft, generator and converter. The process will allow individual and fully integrated subsystems’ validation as well as complete drive train operation at full power.

Offshore WIND: The 8 MW turbine has already been selected for three offshore wind projects planned for France, totalling almost 1.5GW. Do you see the wind turbine becoming competitive in other countries, especially those with a strong offshore wind market, given that MHI Vestas also has an 8MW wind turbine in its offering? What are the advantages of the Adwen 8MW turbine?

Rémi Coulon: The 8 MW turbine is already competitive. It has the largest Annual Energy Production (AEP) in the industry, which is key to lowering the Cost of Energy and addressing the greatest challenge in the offshore industry. Our pipeline of almost 1.5 GW is in France and we see it as an asset to secure projects in other markets. Clearly, the industry is moving towards larger turbines and we are seeing a lot of interest from several customers, not only in France, but also abroad.

Regarding the advantages of the turbine, we have first of all to speak about its AEP which, thanks to its 180-meter rotor, is the largest in the industry. Its modular design and standardization of components are also important features. In addition, it has been designed having in mind ease of installation and maintainability, benefiting from the experience and track record of our 5 MW platform.

Offshore WIND: Do you plan to expand your turbine offer portfolio beyond the two 5 MW turbines, and the 8W turbine currently under development?

Rémi Coulon: The 8 MW is designed as a platform, not just a single turbine. This means that it is built with scalability in mind, and depending on how the market evolves, we will upgrade it and increase its output. Currently we are fully focused on the AD 8-180, which is what the market is asking us now, and that’s where our efforts are going.

Offshore WIND: One of the drawbacks of the offshore wind power industry is high upfront costs. Is there a way for turbine manufacturers such as Adwen to reduce production costs, and do you see the industry offering any solutions to reduce initial investments?

Rémi Coulon: One important remark is that you need to focus not only on these costs, but on the overall cost of energy, which is influenced of course by the Capex, but also by Opex and AEP. Lowering this cost of energy is in Adwen’s DNA as it brings together offshore experience and technology with superior cost optimization know-how, outstanding industrialization capacity and supply chain, and excellent operation and maintenance services. We are confident that this mix will allow us to meet the industry target of 100€/MWh by 2020.

Offshore WIND: How stable is the European offshore wind market for turbine manufacturers at this time and how do you see the market conditions developing in the future? Will the moving of offshore wind farms farther from coast significantly affect wind turbine technology?

Rémi Coulon: There is a market and that’s important, although we could use more visibility. There are uncertainties in some key markets which certainly don’t help. However, what we need to do is keep working on lowering the CoE to make offshore wind an undisputed part of the energy mix and the industry has been doing a terrific job on this front. Despite projects being more and more complex and farther away from the coast, the trend of cost reduction has not stopped and our objective of meeting €100/MWh by 2020 is doable and will shift the debate from why offshore wind is needed to how it should be developed.

Offshore WIND: Adwen said it is also able to benefit from the offshore wind potential in Asia. Are there any specific countries the company is currently eyeing?

Rémi Coulon: Yes, Asia is indeed an important market for us, notably China where we are very active already and where we start to see an important installed base as well as projects in the pipeline. The experience of established European players will be needed to develop the industry in the country and Adwen can play a major role there.

Interview prepared by Adrijana Buljan and Adnan Duraković, Offshore WIND Staff