French turbine manufacturer Alstom hopes to gain a foothold in the UK offshore wind turbine market by winning orders to supply delayed Round 2 projects, the company's vice president for offshore wind, Frederic Hendrick, told Windpower Offshore.
A turbine order for one or more UK Round 2 projects would significantly boost Alstom's chances of securing contracts to supply its 6MW Haliade turbine for coveted Round 3 projects. Siemens is the only turbine manufacturer, thus far, to have secured orders for Round 3, having struck a deal with Dong to supply 300 units of its new SWT 6.0-154 model.
Turbine purchases for several UK Round 2 projects are likely to be announced this year. Round 2 wind farm yet to be built include RWE's 1.2GW Triton Knoll, Centrica's 580MW Race Bank and Statoil & Statkraft's 560MW Dudgeon.
"We believe that UK offshore offers a big opportunity for us, together with Germany," said Hendrick, adding that one complication in the UK is continued uncertainty about the future level of financial incentive that offshore wind owners will receive for the electricity their projects generate. Hendrick is hopeful that some indication of the initial offshore wind 'strike price', which will form the heart of the incoming contracts for difference (CfDs) regime, will become clear by September.
Alstom's Haliade turbine is currently being tested onshore, with an offshore test due to begin within months. Series production is scheduled to start in mid-2014. Hendrick is frustrated that installation of a prototype in Belgian waters has been delayed by bad weather. "We're still hoping for installation by the end of Q1, but we lost two solid weeks," he said.
The recent announcement of a second French tender is "good news", confirmed Hendrick. "We will be partnering with EDF again to win, we hope, a substantial part of the projects." In January, the French government confirmed it will soon launch a tender for two further offshore wind farms, with a combined capacity of 1GW. In the first tender round, Alstom secured the right to supply three of the four awarded projects, representing about 240 turbine units.
The US offshore wind market is still in its infancy, but Alstom is actively following developments on the east coast. Waters off the state of Virginia offer interesting opportunities, noted Hendrick, as do North Carolina's waters. The company has partnered with US developer Dominion Virginia Power to install two Haliade turbines off Virginia Beach. "The speed at which projects will develop may vary, but the area offers relatively shallow waters and a good network of shipyards," he said. Alstom is also following closely developments in south east Asia.