THE VIEW | Is offshore wind’s Olympian drive for ever-mightier turbines heading for a fall? 

August 18, 2023
 | 
3 min read
Featured Image

The scale-up to supersize machines that a decade ago seemed almost unimaginable has been at the heart of the industry’s transformative efforts to slash cost and speed into the energy mainstream. But there is a growing chorus that this Olympian drive for ever-larger machines is stretching OEMs to the breaking point and creating wider risks to the worldwide build-out  – and should spur a rethink of 20MW – and mightier – models

Global wind OEM Vestas announced last week that its 15MW V236 offshore wind turbine prototype at the Østerild test site had achieved a new record for the highest output in a single day, churning out 363MWh inside a 24-hour window. This overtakes the previous industry best, set in October by Siemens Gamesa’s 14MW SG14-222DD (359MWh/day), also erected at Østerild, and before that GE’s 13MW Haliade-X, which in 2020 broke the 300MWh threshold for the first time, recording 312MWh of output in a single day at the Dutch Port of Rotterdam.​ 

Doubtless, production records from Western OEM-built turbines will continue to tumble – Siemens Gamesa’s top-of-the-line SG14-236, which can be uprated to 15MW, is already up and running at the Danish test facility. But these machines will not be taking home the laurels for daily output in the coming years, of course, with the biggest-rotored units on the planet now turning off China. 

In the waters off Guangdong in Southern China, MingYang Smart Energy’s 16MW model was commissioned in July and compatriot Goldwind, working with developer China Three Gorges, has switched on its same-size GWH252 off the coast of Fujian.​ 

Though not much is known about the performance of these Chinese turbines, based on their nameplates the industry already has units at sea that are capable of producing a mind-bending 400MWh a day.​ And with other still larger models from Sino-OEMs – most recently CSSC Haizhuang with its 18MW H260 – heading out, the upward trajectory of this trend appears to be continuing. ​ 

Western OEMs are chanting that they do not want and cannot afford a race to the bottom on LCOE in developing these next-generation supersize models – and looking at financial results across the sector from the past years, the view is dire, with even Chinese turbine-makers witnessing a drop in profitability, even if they have remained in the black.  

As many are murmuring in an industry being buffeted by macroeconomic headwinds and aching with supply chain growing pains, is the line between innovation-driven cost reduction and pan-industrial sustainability about to be crossed?  

Interested in getting the latest insights on developments in the global floating wind market? Aegir Insights has just released the Floating Wind Intelligence package for Q2 2023 to subscribers, including the tracking of projects, partnerships and high-quality market forecasts based on our extensive industry experience in market and project development. Reach out to us to learn more about Aegir Insights' floating intelligence.


This article was first published in Aegir Insights' intelligence newsletter, Beaufort.

Delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday, Beaufort will sharpen your market insight for the week ahead with exclusive commentary, analysis, and in-depth journalism delving into the talking points and technologies shaping offshore wind.

Sign up for free here


Tagged: Beaufort
aegir-logo-lockup-nightblue-RGB

Aegir Insights provides industry-leading intelligence powered by data science for offshore wind energy developers, governments and financial institutions.

Aegir Insights ApS

Aegir Insights
Havnegade 27 st,
1058 Copenhagen,
Denmark


Contact

info@aegirinsights.com
CVR no.: 39104792

Follow

Aegir Insights

Aegir Insights
Havnegade 27,
1058 Copenhagen,
Denmark


Contact

info@aegirinsights.com
CVR no.: 39104792

All rights reserved 2023 © Aegir Insights Aps