Dusseldorf There is only one way for wind turbines at sea: up. The systems are getting bigger, ever higher, more and more powerful. The turbine manufacturers have been overturning their announcements for three years. In 2018, the Danes from Vestas came out on top with their 10-megawatt turbine, only to be cut out by the Americans at GE with 12 megawatts shortly afterwards. Now the German-Spanish team around Siemens Gamesa is passing its competition.
The new SG-14 plant is to run on the high seas with a 14 megawatt output. The first prototype will be completed next year. “It is the next generation of offshore wind turbines and a system for the global market,” said Pierre Bauer, Managing Director of Siemens Gamesa Germany and CFO for the offshore area in an interview with Handelsblatt. After all, you are on the growth path.
A total of 5500 wind turbines are currently rotating in the world’s oceans, two thirds of them in Europe. In contrast to the business with onshore wind power, the projects in the sea are usually larger, but there are significantly fewer of them. The competition is tough.
However, the potential of offshore wind power is even greater. According to the International Energy Agency, the business with offshore wind power should reach a volume of more than US $ 1.3 trillion over the next twenty years and offshore wind power will become one of the largest sources of electricity in the world. The first wind turbine on the high seas was installed in Germany ten years ago. With 1300 wind turbines, the Federal Republic is now the second largest offshore market in the world after Great Britain.
Unlike their small relatives on land, the wind turbines off the coast are not only significantly more powerful, but also larger and more expensive. This also applies to the new Siemens turbine. Each of the three rotor blades is 108 meters long, which is exactly one meter longer than GE’s previous record holder.
Overall, the new generation of turbines has a diameter of 220 meters. Bauer is also convinced that there is still room for improvement in performance. “If you had asked a developer four years ago whether a 14 megawatt plant would be feasible in 2020, the answer would have been no. But there is always more. “
However, the SG-14 is not expected to enter the market until 2024. GE has a head start with its 12 MW turbine. It will go into series production at the end of next year and could even be brought up to almost 14 megawatts with a few adjustments, according to GE. Anyway, Bauer is certain that the competition’s next mega-turbine will not be long in coming.
Corona ensures red numbers
Although the Siemens Energy subsidiary only recently had to withdraw its forecasts for the current year due to the global corona pandemic, the wind giant’s Germany manager is confident. “In the offshore sector we sometimes have 3-6 years of development time for products and projects. Many components were therefore available and we have not experienced any significant restrictions. Regionally, the supply chains were affected differently, so things were different in the onshore market, ”says Bauer. Especially in the southern European countries, but also in the USA and Asia, many projects came to a standstill due to the corona restrictions.
As in the first quarter, the offshore market leader did not make it out of the loss zone in the second. The bottom line is that the wind turbine manufacturer lost 165 million euros, after a profit of 49 million euros in the previous year. In the first half of the year, the losses add up to 339 million euros. Competitors Vestas and Nordex are also in the red because of Corona.
That is why it is now all the more important that the federal government also implement its announcements, Bauer demands. “The expansion restrictions for offshore wind must go away. There is no option if we want to achieve our climate goals, ”he says, referring to the so-called offshore cover.
According to the plan from Berlin, 15 gigawatts of wind power should have been installed on the sea by 2030. Only last week, the coastal states of Lower Saxony, Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein had agreed with the transmission system operators and the federal government after months of struggle to expand the expansion limit to 20 gigawatts by 2030.
More: Why Corona is good for the climate, but slows down the energy transition.