Turbine size cap in focus, floating’s armada sets sail and offshore wind boom time

After years of focusing on the next, larger turbine model, the previously unthinkable is being considered seriously in the wind sector – is it time to put a cap on the size of these units?

That question loomed large at this week’s Global Offshore Wind industry event in Manchester, UK, as part of a wider debate over the need for the race to the bottom on cost to end, to be replaced by a focus on industrialisation and building a sustainable – in every sense of the word – supply chain.

The idea that the world’s OEMs should stop at the 14-16MW offshore machines currently under development was not shared, however, by Chinese manufacturer MingYang, whose European co-head claimed there is still demand among customers to go larger.

Even as the industry ponders where to go next, the current supersized turbines on the drawing board continues to make headlines this week, not least after a US patent case ruling that could see GE forced to pay millions in royalties to rival Siemens Gamesa for the first wave of giant Haliade-X turbines.

Siemens Gamesa itself had further cause for satisfaction this week when Ocean Winds confirmed an order that will see its largest turbines yet at a power-boosted 14.7MW deployed off Scotland.

There are no question marks over the direction of travel scale-wise for floating wind power – the only way is up… and out to sea.

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The sector was the subject of a special two-panel Recharge digital roundtable this week, the first including Equinor, Siemens Gamesa, Bureau Veritas and World Forum Offshore Wind concluding that floating is now “on the edge of moving from innovation to industrialisation” as giga-scale projects loom.

The second roundtable focused on sector technologies, with the potential floating wind units could have in niche US plays, including Oregon, the Gulf of Maine and the waters of the Central Atlantic, emerging as key to supercharging expansion of the American market now centred on California.

If you missed the panels, a full replay of the event – Floating Wind Power: The Armadas Head Out To Seais available here.

If there was any lingering doubt over the massive role offshore wind will play in the energy transition, more evidence came this week as Rystad Energy forecast a $100bn capital spend on the global sector by 2030.

The scale and diversity of the industry will be in focus every day next week when Recharge publishes a series of special features on key new markets and technologies in the sector, ranging from a look at the fast-emerging southern European offshore wind scene to an exclusive insight into the pioneering Hywind Tampen floating project.

We begin on Monday with a report on Ireland’s offshore wind second coming, and for non-subscribers, why not take our free trial to enjoy these special features and much more.

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