Cape Wind hauntology, Siemens Gamesa’s week of two halves, and ScotWind the brave

Remember Cape Wind, the project that was for years during the last decade expected to end up leading the US offshore wind charge?

If you don’t, the reason is that the project foundered on the rocks of delay and finally sank, the subject of a stream of litigation that – as a Recharge analysis article this week revealed – is back to threaten the new generation of US projects, led by challenges from the nation’s fisheries industries.

One such is South Fork, the pioneering New York project being developed by Orsted that this week received a huge boost with a final approval for its construction and operations plan (COP) by the federal authorities, but which still faces the possibility of legal challenges to come, among them from fisheries.

The spectre of litigation is the last thing the US industry needs as it gears up to meet insatiable demand for green power from the nation’s states, exemplified by the finalising of a procurement deal between New York and Equinor and BP for nearly 2.5GW of generation from the Empire Wind 2 and Beacon Wind projects off the east coast,

This was a week of two halves for Siemens Gamesa, the wind turbine giant that thrives at sea but faces stiff challenges on land.

As well as celebrating the green light for South Fork above, the Spanish-German OEM rolled out of the factory the first nacelles of the 11MW offshore turbine model that will equip the New York wind farm, as well Vattenfall’s giant Hollandse Kust Zuid project in the Dutch North Sea where it will make its debut.

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The early part of the week also brought upbeat news for Siemens Gamesa on the legal front, when it hailed a decision by the US International Trade Commission that only banned imports of its older turbines following a patent infringement complaint by rival GE Renewable Energy. However, by late Thursday evening in Europe there was a stark reminder of the battle facing Siemens Gamesa to turn around its onshore wind business, as the group posted another quarterly loss and again downgraded its financial forecasts.

CEO Andreas Nauen pulled no punches in a call with financial analysts on Friday as he spelled out challenges facing the onshore operation, ranging from supply chain inflation to ongoing issues with the ramp-up of its flagship 5.X turbine platform.

Such is the pace of events in the energy transition that it already seems an age ago, but Monday 17 January will go down as “one of the most momentous days in offshore wind history”, according to World Forum Offshore Wind chief Gunnar Herzig, writing in Recharge.

He is of course referring ScotWind, the giant leasing round that saw the Crown Estate Scotland award seabed for a higher-than-expected 25GW of fixed and floating projects to some of the biggest names in the power and fossil fuel sectors.

The fact that the majority of the capacity is floating was immediately seized upon as evidence that the nascent sector has hit the big time, while the list of winners included fixed-bottom leader Orsted with its first foray into floating wind.

BP and EnBW also formed a winning team and told Recharge in an exclusive interview how they would move early to secure a supply chain for their projects amid what is likely to be stiff competition – a view echoed by industry experts who flagged the challenges ahead following the round.

And while the winners planned their next moves, there was a bullish response from one of the notable absentees from the ScotWind list, Aker Offshore Wind, which insisted its global pipeline prospects remain rosy.

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