Offshore WIND Conference Day Two Maps the Way Forward

Sometimes, one can be reading a map only to end up in space, which is not a bad thing at all if that is where they want to go. However, we ought to make sure where we are and which road we need to take to reach our “outer space” goals. Luckily, the second day of the Offshore Wind Conference (OWC) in Amsterdam gathered speakers who can guide us through the offshore wind journey.  

Roelof Schuitema, Director at Teamwork Technology.

Day two of the OWC, held on 10 October, kicked-off with the session that explored the future of offshore wind, with a focus on the opportunities for the sector over the next ten years and beyond, and on the roles that policies and innovation can play in advancing the industry.

Speaking of how policies could affect the development of offshore wind, Daiva Matonienė, Rapporteur on Revised Renewable Energy Directive from the European Committee of The Regions, introduced the position of the European Committee of the Regions on two key policy proposals put forward by the European Commission: the revised renewable energy directive and the new set of rules for the internal electricity market.

In this light, Daiva Matonienė also highlighted the importance of the European Investment Advisory Hub: “Setting up an advisory hub must be a one-stop-shop to simplifying the whole project.”

The government support schemes for the sector were presented by Simon Dilks, Head of Nuclear and Renewables Innovation at UK BEIS, who talked about the industry-changing innovations arising from DemoWind, a European multi-million euros worth H2020 ERA-NET grant program that helps to fund collaborative, trans-national offshore wind technology demonstration projects.

“ERA-NET will now be more difficult for UK. We have a real interest to work with North Seas partners to do something like this again,” Dilks said, referring to effect of the UK exiting the European Union.

Leo de Vrees from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment discussed the challenges with multi-use of space in the Netherlands by 2030 and especially when the installation of thousands of turbines by 2050 is taken into account. He further pointed out that the cooperation between the North Sea countries is of essence.

The day continued with a session on the relationship between oil and gas and wind energy sector exploring the possible changes in the cooperation between oil & gas and offshore wind in this new energy paradigm.

The session was opened by Rene Peters, Director Gas Technology at TNO Energy, after which a lively panel discussion took place featuring Arnold Groot, General manager from Circular Energy, and Ernst van Zuijlen, Director at GROW, and Leo de Vrees.

Rene Peters spoke about the challenges for reusing the infrastructure for energy systems in the Dutch part of the North Sea. He said that the development of large-scale offshore wind can be integrated with offshore gas infrastructure for the electrification of offshore gas platforms, power to gas (P2G) and H2 transport, carbon transport and storage (CCS), gas to wire, as well as energy storage.

Ernst van Zuijlen, Director at GROW talked about driving down costs of offshore wind farms. Zuijlen said: “There is a big need to reduce costs of offshore wind and explore possibilities for system integration.”

Arnold Groot, General Manager from Circular Energy, pointed out that oil and gas sectors needs to bring down their emissions by 80%. Groot said: “The adjustments have to be made and electrification is the easiest option to start.”

He also said that Dutch gas requirements are above the production levels of the country. So, in order to avoid importing gas from other countries, producing free-emission gas, powered by offshore wind, would be a positive development.

During the panel discussion, Ernst van Zuijlen asked Rene Peters about the advantages for the offshore wind industry in relation to the cooperation with oil and gas. Peters said that there are no short-term benefits for the offshore wind sector, opposed to those that could arise in the long-term.

Leo de Vrees said the government is supportive of the potential pilot project that would demonstrate the mutual benefits of collaboration between offshore wind and oil & gas sectors.

Vrees said: “Government stimulates these kinds of projects. We like to see foes become friends.”

The final session of the second day of the Offshore Wind conference looked at space and how the space technology could play a part in optimizing offshore wind farm operations.

The technology could support offshore wind sector in activities such as site characterization, resource measurement, environmental data collection, installation, asset surveillance, vessel support, and maintenance and disposal.

Davide Coppola, from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Downstream Business Applications Department, talked about how two industries could work together to improve future offshore wind farms and applications.

What ESA can offer to offshore wind is its technology and scientific expertise, among other things. This includes communication support, as well as ISSWIND services (Supporting Services for the Wind Power Industry) aimed to reduce planning and implementation costs.

Wrapping up the day, Mike Blanch, Associate Director, BVG Associates, delivered a closing statement, summarizing the past two days, offering reflection, and food for thought.

Reporting: Amir Garanović; Editing: Offshore WIND Staff