Offshore windpower these years is developing drastically, and to Siemens the challenge is to maintain their leading position in Denmark.
Competition is intense within offshore windpower. Development of the market is positive, and one of the major focus areas is to reduce costs thereby cutting down on the total price of installment. CEO Michael Hannibal from Siemens is looking forward to 2017 where a lot is likely to happen.
2016 was a year rich in activities – what are your expectations for 2017?
”Correct, many exciting things happened in 2016, and I expect that will be repeated in 2017, too. First and foremost the challenge is to ensure that offshore windpower goes on being a significant and supporting element of the total mix of Danish energy.
This is achieved i.a. by continuing to develop our concepts. This year I am particularly looking forward to our activities at Nissum Bredding where we are to test our new concepts for foundations. It is a project, where we are cooperating with some of the other big players in the industry. The overall scope is to see, how it is possible to design foundations for offshore turbines in a fundamentally different way allowing much more of them to be constructed onshore inside a factory. To a much greater content we shall modulize the foundations, and it will be interesting to study the experience from this project.
In 2016 the costs of offshore windpower started dropping. 2017 looks interesting as this tendency seems to continue thanks to the the new types of foundation.
Finally, I should mention that some of last years tenders called for interesting trends in the calculations of the price of wind power. It will be exciting to see if these trends continue this year as we all agree that the price of wind energy must be reduced .
What is the present challenge in offshore wind power?
It is interesting that invitation to tenders are sent out for projects not be installed til mid 2020. Such long term planning has not taken place before, and it is a very long horizon for tendering and most challenging when trying to calculate the correct price.
This shall be considered in connection with the fact that our branch is in a bit of a transition phase. Seen in the big perspective, a decade ago wind power was an immature technology where a few players by trial and error attempted to find the best way to do things. We only have to look back at 1991 to see the first Danish windfarm, the Vindeby, where we were involved, being installed.
By now the market for windfarms is growing more mature, and actually it is close to being fully mature within a short span of years. This transition is not making it easier to engage in far reaching prognoses. But it makes it all the more exciting to be a part of this game.
What are your focal areas in the Danish market?
As I said just before I will go for the Nissum Bredding and the idea of re-thinking the entire principle of foundations. We need to have some proper results ready soon and include them in future power plants offshore.
Another area is, of course, the major invitations for tendering here in Denmark. Here we would like to be taken into account. Offshore windpower has turned into a most competitive market, so that is a most exciting aspect.
How can you go on developing?
We have five areas for concentrating our strength. Optimizing the existing turbines is a set subject currently offering small as well as large benefits which may add up to a significantly lower price of electricity from wind. Furthermore, we shall develop a better foundation concept. And then we shall offer better service. We shall persuade the players of the branch to join in when providing more efficient and better infrastructure – that is transmitting the electricity from the turbines ashore and to the consumers. And then we have the interesting challenge of developing a totally new end even larger wind turbine. So 2017 will not see us idle.
Traditionally Denmark is in the lead when talking wind power – what shall be done to maintain this position?
There are many elements. Historically we have seen great political support of the wind power industry. We have got national test centres, green energy policies and a large and active home market, just to mention three central elements. It is important for these three elements to continue being topic and that a changing political climate will not talk down the importance of the wind industry. We have seen some negative examples, and they were not benefitting our industry. To my opinion we have all reason to be proud of the Danish wind power industry and the results we have achieved.
It is important, too, that wind turbines are continously being erected here in Denmark. Our industry needs to be present where the activity takes place, and when we are close to the large installations we can test improvements and new inventions in our own back garden, so to speak.
Finally, and in a greater perspective, development of wind power is integrated in the society's growing need for electricity. Electricity from wind turbines can be used in many areas – even more than the case is today. I may for instance mention our infrastructure. We are employing more electric trains, and that is fine, but we shall use electricity for busses, too, for cars and for ferries. Another example is district heating plants. They could benefit from using electricity.
So, we are in a strong position here in Denmark, and we can hold on to it by taking the right decisions and agreeing on the right priorities for the future.