Despite the World is everchanging and ground breaking events seem to happen quite often, it is still quite rare to witness first hand history in the making, let alone being a part of the projects which change our perspective on such important and vital topics as energy sources. I feel quite lucky and I would like to tell you why.
The 8th International Conference and Exhibition ‘Offshore Wind – Logistics & Supplies 2019’ was surely a great success for the Polish Offshore Wind Energy Society which hosted the event. The turnout was impressive both in terms of numbers of participants as well as their position as unquestionable leaders of their relevant markets. The conference also once again confirmed that offshore wind energy is coming to Poland and everyone wants to get on board.
As mentioned, we had the pleasure to hear presentations prepared by the true giants of the industry. Vidar Martin Birkeland of Equinor enlisted the company’s great international projects worth billions of EUR and clearly confirmed that not only is the company ready to participate in creating Polish offshore wind, but it is already happening as Equinor is reaching new milestones together with Polenergia and PGE.
The company does not want to be considered ‘an oil company’ anymore. Hence, also the name change from Statoil to Equinor. A step taken by other market players as well i.e. DONG (Dansk Olie og Naturgas A/S) Energy which is now Ørsted – this also constituting an interesting move causing a significant portion of their client base not to be able to pronounce their name correctly ever again. Equinor is going green and becoming an energy company instead of an entity dedicated to subjects resolving around fossil fuels. Equinor knows that offshore wind energy is the future of energy sources and it wants it also to be a part of the future of the company itself.
However, it was Arkadiusz Grota of GE Renewalble Energy, another major company of this sector, who introduced us the first real giant leading the way to the era of giants, which is the future of offshore wind as it seems. The Haliade-X.
The sci-fi-like name is very much appropriate. The Haliade-X is a breath taking colossus of 12MW capacity with 260 meters of height and an impressive 220-meter rotor. They put it against the Eiffel Tower and the Chrysler Building for comparison. And they will not build just one. There will be farms of such behemoths. As seen on the company’s marketing brochure, the Haliade-X generates 45% more energy than the most powerful wind turbines currently available and will generate enough clean power for up to 16,000 European households. I must admit that it is truly beautiful in every sense possible. I hope to see it on Polish waters very soon.
However, the competition is not falling behind. Paweł Przybylski of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy talked about their product which is the SG 10.0-193 DD 10MW wind turbine also with an impressive 193-meter rotor and advertised as a turbine generating more power at low risk.
It reminds me a bit of the situation with the car industry where certain companies race each other continuously putting on the market more powerful engines able to reach more torque, more speed and in the same time reduce fuel consumption. The race in the offshore wind business however, seems more spectacular and well, more useful from the objective perspective.
Now obviously, you need to be able to place these monsters on the sea. Right now, the existing boats are not up to the task. This is where the vessel designers and manufacturers come forward.
Erik Snijders representing SeaOwls – jack-up consultancy and designs was very straightforward, ‘we need bigger boats, much bigger boats’, he said. Then he showed us a glimpse of such “bigger boat” of SeaOwls design, a boat 104 meter wide and 164 meter long equipped with unusually shaped supports and other special features, which would be able to handle the difficult job of putting the gigantic pieces of the structure together at the place of destination.
Jef Monballieu of Jan De Nul explained that two of their vessels able to handle the GE and Siemens products are already being built. One of these boats together with its cartoonish oversized crane is just one meter higher than the aforementioned Eiffel Tower.
So we will have behemoths lifting behemoths, it seems.
Hard to imagine that all of this will possibly start happening soon some 20+ kilometres from our Polish shores. The Port of Gdynia Authority is already preparing itself for the events to come. The quays are being rebuilt to withstand the weight of the gigantic sections of wind turbines and there is even a whole new external port to be constructed within the upcoming years.
Our local companies such as Energomontaż-Północ Gdynia and Stocznia Gdańska (particularly its subsidiary GSG Towers), experienced in construction projects carried out for the oil industry, now declare their readiness to be a part of the impressive offshore wind projects to come.
As mentioned before, I feel lucky. Not only because the discussion on the above mentioned wonders between the top companies of the industry came to Gdynia right next to our Sea Towers Office (thanks Polish Offshore Wind Energy Society, great venue choice), but also thanks to our friends and clients EPG, Kaverner and others, me and my colleagues may actually become a part of this history in the making.