European firms submit new US offshore projects; EC clears Siemens-Gamesa merger

Our pick of the latest wind power news you need to know.

PNE Wind, Statoil submit fresh US offshore wind requests

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has received two unsolicited lease requests from Germany's PNE Wind and Norway's Statoil to develop offshore wind farms off the coast of New York and Massachusetts, BOEM said March 10.

PNE Wind USA has requested a lease to build an offshore windfarm of capacity 300 to 400 MW within a 40,920-acre site offshore New York, project documents show.

In addition, PNE Wind USA and Statoil Wind US both submitted unsolicited lease requests for previously-unleased areas offshore Massachusetts. PNE Wind USA wants to build a 400 MW wind farm and Statoil wants to build a plant of capacity 400 to 600 MW.

"Due to the fact that both parties nominated the same area [in Massachusetts], BOEM has determined that competitive interest exists and plans to proceed with the competitive leasing process outlined in BOEM's regulations," it said.

Since 2010, the BOEM has authorized offshore wind leases in New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

In December, BOEM allocated Statoil Wind the lease for its 79,350 acre New York Wind Energy Area (NYWEA) at a record-high offshore lease price of $42,469,725.

The lease win confirmed Statoil's return to the U.S. offshore wind market after the Norwegian firm pulled out of the $120 million 12 MW Hywind Maine project off Boothbay Harbor in late 2013.

Statoil’s bid represents $535 per acre compared with an average of $13.5 per acre for the preceding 11 East Coast lease allocations, highlighting the Norwegian group’s commitment to the U.S. offshore wind market.

PNE Wind is currently developing six projects in the German North Sea and acting as service provider for five other European projects.

            US offshore wind net capacity factor at 100 meters

Source: US Department of Energy's National Offshore Wind Strategy (2016)

Scotland approves 50 MW floating wind farm

The Scottish government has approved planning consent for the 50 MW Kincardine floating offshore wind farm project, the government announced March 9.

The Kincardine wind farm will be located approximately 15 km south-east of Aberdeen and will use eight 6 MW turbines, the government said in a statement.

"If [floating wind] technology can be demonstrated at scale, it has huge potential to help Scotland meet its energy needs and to develop a supply chain that can service opportunities elsewhere in Europe and in markets such as South East Asia and North America," the government said.

Norway's Statoil is set to complete the first commercial floating wind farm later this year when it brings online its 30 MW Hywind Scotland project off the coast of Aberdeenshire. The Hywind Scotland project will consist of five 6 MW Siemens direct drive turbines deployed in a water depth range of 95 -120 meters.

Statoil said the Hywind project would achieve reductions in CAPEX of 60-70% compared with a 2.3 MW demonstration model which has been operational for six years in the Norwegian North Sea.

A Carbon Trust report published in 2015 found that floating wind has the potential to cut capital expenditure (CAPEX) by 48% in the transition from prototype to commercial scale.

The study assessed 18 floating wind design concepts and found that project capex could fall to 2.7 million pounds/MW in the 2020s, which would deliver an levelized cost of energy (LCOE) below 100 pounds/MWh. Leading floating wind concepts could see lower costs of 85 to 95 pounds/MWh (2.4 million pounds/MW capex), the report said.

European grid operators advance giant offshore power hub project

German, Dutch and Danish grid operators are to sign a trilateral agreement March 23 to develop the proposed North Sea Wind Power Hub on Dogger Island, the grid operators said March 8.

The German and Dutch divisions of Tennet and Denmark's Energinet want to build a power hub that could transmit as much as 100 GW of offshore wind power over direct current lines to Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Norway and Belgium. The power hub could be completed sometime between 2030 and 2050, according to the operators.

The Dogger Island area provides excellent wind level conditions, relatively shallow waters, and the island could act as a manufacturing hub to optimize costs, project plans show.

Proposed transmission links would act as interconnectors, allowing companies to trade electricity between national wholesale markets.

"Offshore wind has in recent years proved to be increasingly competitive and it is important to us to constantly focus on further reduction in prices of grid connections and interconnections. We need innovative and large-scale projects so that offshore wind can play an even bigger part in our future energy supply," Peder Ostermark Andreasen, CEO of Energinet, said.

The grid operators are pursuing discussions with other potential partners, including other grid operators and infrastructure companies.

"The goal is to achieve a multi-party consortium which will realize the North Sea Wind Power Hub project," the operators said.

EC clears Siemens' acquisition of Gamesa

The European Commission (EC) has cleared unconditionally Siemens' acquisition of Gamesa, the EC said in a statement March 13.

Germany's Siemens and Spain's Gamesa agreed to merge their wind businesses in June 2016 in a deal which will see Siemens shareholders hold a 59% stake and Gamesa shareholders 41%. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of this year.

The merger of Siemens and Gamesa will create a 'big four' of dominant global turbine manufacturers, with Denmark's Vestas, U.S. group GE and China's Goldwind.

The merger of Siemens and Gamesa raises "no competition concerns" as a number of credible competitors will remain in the market, the EC said in its statement.

Spain's Gamesa was the fourth largest turbine supplier globally in 2016, installing 3.7 GW of capacity, according to data published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Siemens was in eighth place at 2.1 GW.

In the Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) market, Vestas, Enercon, GE and Nordex all supplied more turbine capacity than Siemens and Gamesa combined, BNEF data shows.

Vestas reclaimed its position as top global onshore turbine supplier in 2016, supplying 8.7 GW to represent 16.5% of global new build, BNEF figures show.

Goldwind slipped from first place to third and supplied 6.4 GW of turbines in 2016, down from 7.8 GW in 2015. GE moved up into second place, supplying 6.5 GW of new capacity compared with 5.9 GW in 2015.

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