The third largest owner of offshore wind operational capacity, E.ON, is working towards a €95/MWh cost of energy by industrialising its processes, according to Dominik Schwegmann, project manager for the utility's Amrumbank West development.
Industrialising offshore wind installation is a challenge, but E.ON expects to learn important lessons over the next few years that will allow it to achieve industrialisation and lower costs substantially by the final years of this decade, explained Schwegmann, speaking at GL Garrad Hassan's offshore wind conference in Hamburg. The company's offshore wind installed capacity is expected to reach 1.2GW by 2016, he added.
Focusing on E.ON's upcoming 288MW Amrumbank West project in the German North Sea, Schwegmann explained that the design team has opted to avoid the problematic issue of grouting during foundation installation altogether, by choosing to use non-load bearing flange connections. This innovative approach aims to ensure that E.ON does not face the problems that have occurred during installation of several other offshore wind farms, not least Greater Gabbard.
Grouting during foundation installation has emerged as one of the riskiest aspects of offshore wind farm construction and alternatives are being prioritised by some developers. Onshore testing of the flange connection technique planned for Amrumbank West is underway in Belgium. "These physical interfaces must be something we master," said Schwegmann, who was package manager on the Alpha Ventus project.
Once Amrumbank West is complete, E.ON will build another project in German waters, the 480MW Arkona Becken Südost wind farm in the Baltic Sea. This project will face more challenging geological conditions, acknowledged Schwegmann. The company's in-house team will focus on innovative approaches to project design and procurement for Arkona Becken Südost, including minimising the length of inter-array cables and exploring the possibility of buying steel from Asia.
In the UK, E.ON's offshore wind portfolio includes Scroby Sands, Robin Rigg, Humber Gateway and the Round 3 Rampion project.