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Towards a more balanced power supply
Offshore wind brings new opportunities
Offshore wind is one of the most stable sources of renewable energy. Power fluctuations are minimal due to prevalent ocean wind patterns. And the need for standby generator capacity for peak load servicing is largely eliminated through accurate weather forecasting combined with remote databased control and management. This reduces costs, enhances network stability, and contributes to a balanced power supply.
In the coming years, offshore wind could triple capacity, from 8 GW today to 24 GW by 2020, thus becoming a trustworthy renewable resource for Europe’s integrated supergrids of the future. Indeed, offshore wind will play a key role in “keeping global warming below 2° C,” the goal of the 2015 COP21 Conference held in Paris.
Recent offshore wind trends include a move towards larger turbines and deep-water floating units. Offshore projects (up to 200 km from shore) require robust cables, precision maritime installation, and efficient long-distance transmission, involving innovative cable solutions and reliable accessories.
New trends and drivers
- Increased cost-competitiveness: Offshore wind power is still expensive. As a viable solution, production costs must be reduced both in terms of hardware (wind turbines), control software, and cable infrastructure.
- Larger and more efficient turbines: Higher energy capture, increased reliability and lower operating costs can generate 9 % savings per unit. Next-generation 6-8 MW turbines require durable, large capacity cables.
- Deeper waters farther out to sea: Offshore towers and infrastructure must be able to handle severe ocean conditions. Cables and components need to be saltand water-resistant and display dynamic maritime qualities.
- Upgraded transmission and interconnection infrastructure: Ocean-based turbines, whether fullscale floating devices or grounded on the seabed, require appropriate infrastructure to export energy to land-based grids, and provide telecommunications for remote control.
- Improved supply chain, logistics and installation: Optimization could potentially achieve 3 % savings. This demands cable and accessories availability, as well as onsite delivery and installation using specialized cable laying vessels. This requires marine proficiency and cable-laying capability.
- Partnerships and trans-regional cooperation: This is especially crucial in research, technological development and training. International projects require specialized cable expertise, shared knowhow, and adherence to world standards.