The Road to Renewables

Times are changing in the offshore energy market. Investments in the oil & gas industry are low, while development and investments in offshore renewable energy are high and very much increasing. The shallow waters of the North Sea area, in particular, show an increasing level of investments in renewable energy and more specifically, in wind energy.

Dutch engineering company, Iv-Oil & Gas made the conscious decision to enter the world of wind energy some ten years ago. Having already executed quite a few offshore wind projects, including the Thornton Bank HVAC Substation, DolWin alpha HVDC Converter Platform and the HelWin beta HVDC Converter Platform, Iv-Oil & Gas sees lots of opportunities within this evolving market.

Steps towards a sustainable future

The 2020 climate package is a policy set in place by the European Commission. The package’s target consists of three main goals: a 20% reduction in EU greenhouse emissions by 2020 (based on 1990 figures), a 20% increase in the share of renewable energy and a 20% cut in energy consumption.

Iv-Oil & Gas is directly involved in the developments and projects resulting from this policy. This includes projects aimed towards considerably lowering the emissions of existing and future Oil & Gas production platforms, such as studying the possible connection between (future) offshore electricity grids and the modification of existing systems on the platforms. Iv-Oil & Gas is also involved in the development of offshore substations for the upcoming wind farms in the North Sea area.

Value engineering

Critical to the government’s aim to promote renewable energy is the cost of electricity. Today, the cost of energy developed from wind farms is higher compared to other sources of energy such as coal, gas and biomass energy. To facilitate project development in the Wind Energy industry, governments have decided to financially support wind farm projects with the aim of creating an industry that will lower costs through technological development and through experience.

Iv-Oil & Gas has applied value engineering to its projects for a long time and over the years it has developed a systematic approach to lower the cost of projects without jeopardising the functionality of the project and while keeping a sharp eye on Health, Safety and Environment. Value engineering starts at the very beginning of a project and creates a cost-effective basis for further development. Throughout the project development process, cost consciousness remains a key topic.

Shifting gears

Over the years, Iv-Oil & Gas has taken on a number of offshore wind projects; one of the most recent offshore wind projects Iv-Oil & Gas has executed, is HelWin beta.

The high voltage direct current (HVDC) converter platform, HelWin beta is located just 55 kilometres off the German coast in the North Sea in 23 metres of water. Operated by TenneT, Iv-Oil & Gas was awarded the contract for the Engineering and Design of the platform by Heerema Fabrication Group. Iv-Oil & Gas also took care of the Procurement of the non-High Voltage equipment, while its sister company, Iv-Consult prepared the shop drawings.

Additionally, Iv-Oil & Gas has executed the Engineering and Design of the Topside steel structure of the Thornton Bank HVAC Substation, including the workshop drawings and all utility systems for her client HSM Offshore. This substation is used to collect, transform and transfer energy generated by the Wind Turbine Generators on the Thornton Sandbank located 30 kilometres off the coast of Belgium.

What lies ahead?

The future of offshore wind begs a lot of questions. As we dive into deeper waters and develop bigger, taller and heavier wind turbines, different (floating) structures are becoming more prevalent. With a large majority of yards around the North Sea area focused on wind energy projects now, how will we overcome the challenges in logistics, while still keeping costs down? What developments do we expect in the area of wind energy storage? Studies and ideas are presented and well received. It is only a matter of time before we see the first wind energy storage demonstration projects. Aside from her core activities in the Oil & Gas industry, Iv-Oil & Gas provides its extensive knowledge of offshore and maritime project development to solve these challenges.

The cost of energy is a major topic. Today, offshore wind farms are supported by the authorities. However, the future has to show a cost of electricity that is competitive with the other energy sources. The average cost of electricity is noticeably going down but there is still a lot of room to cover and Iv-Oil & Gas is determined to play a key role in that development. Our extensive knowledge and experience in the offshore industry will be the key asset in reaching this achievement.

“When all projects being announced and planned today have materialised, the North Sea will be a large wind park in twenty years’ time”, says Iv-Oil & Gas Manager Business Development, Peter Breit; an interesting idea to think about.

This article first appeared in the October 2016 edition of the Offshore WIND Magazine.