Renewables - OE October 2010

Syntactic foam specialist Trelleborg Offshore recently released details of how it employed well-proven offshore oil & gas technology in the subsea buoyancy arrangements for the world’s first wind turbine ‘floater’, Statoil’s Hywind structure moored in the North Sea off the Norwegian coast. The dynamic floating structure weighs 5300t and is 165m high, with a total of 65m breaking the surface. Some 13km of power offtake and communications cabling further adds to its weight.

For Hywind, Trelleborg designed and supplied 45 polymer-coated syntactic foam Distributed Buoyancy Modules (DBMs) to provide buoyancy support for a 3t, 100m section of cable as it exits the turbine spar and descends to the seabed at -220m. The buoyancy modules include an internal clamp for secure fastening and precise positioning and the cable is supported mid-water in Lazy Wave configuration.

‘For optimum buoyancy under different sea conditions, the precise position of the buoyancy modules on the cable is pre-calculated,’ explained Gary Howland, Trelleborg Offshore renewables sales manager. ‘The positions must be maintained, despite stresses during launch and in operation. The clamp is crucial; the design, material selection and manufacturing technique are critical in ensuring the finished clamp maintains the buoyancy module position, during cable contraction and expansion, over the 20-year lifetime of the project.’

M&A activity remains robust
Findings from a new mergermarket survey unveiled last month by independent professional services firm Rödl & Partner show that, despite the difficult conditions of the last 18 months, renewable energy dealmaking has remained remarkably robust.

The global renewable energy M&A market overview found that in 2009 there were 228 deals announced worth a collective €49.7bn – a deal volume mirroring the level of activity witnessed at the height of the M&A boom in 2007 – and that the first two quarters of 2010 have also seen brisk deal flow.

Conducted in May, the survey garnered the opinions of 100 senior M&A professionals from across the globe who are directly involved in the renewable energy sector and asked their opinions on the key challenges and opportunities that exist, as well as the M&A outlook over the coming year. Key report findings include:
• 78% of respondents expect M&A activity to increase over the coming 12 months.
• 70% of survey respondents note that accessing finance has been the most significant obstacle to dealmaking.
• 41% of respondents expect utility companies to be very active acquirers of assets going forward, as renewables drive to meet parity with traditional forms of energy, suggesting that buy-side interest is no longer dominated by niche investors.
• 67% of respondents expect private equity investment in the sector to increase.
• the geographic breakdown of activity shows that North American and European markets continue to dominate, accounting for 74% of overall deal flow since the beginning of 2005.

Rödl & Partner’s Dr Marcus Felsner commented: ‘The renewables industry has proven to be a major driver for global economic growth. Even in the light of reduced feed-intariffs in important markets like France, Germany, Italy and Spain, investments in renewable energy continue to be highly attractive.’

A transition piece (TP) installation rate of more than one a day was claimed by the Jumbo Javelin on the UK’s Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm. For client Fluor, Jumbo Offshore’s DP2 heavy lift vessel installed, leveled and grouted 131 TPs in all for Greater Gabbard monopiles at a rate of nine 280t TPs per trip. And by using the same vessel to both transport (from Flushing in the Netherlands) and install Jumbo reckons it succeeded in completing this job a month ahead of schedule.

During the vessel’s mobilization in March, the Jumbo Javelin was outfitted with job-specific equipment including temporary living quarters from Ferguson Modular, a Densit grout plant and an Ampelmann access system. In addition, Jumbo developed and built its own passive lifting compensators (with a 2.5m stroke and a safe working load of 300t) and two job-specific, remote release operated, spreader bars to lift the TPs.

Bechtel leads Lake Erie wind team
Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) confirmed in September that Bechtel Development, partnered by Cavallo Great Lakes Ohio Wind and Great Lakes Wind Energy, had been selected to develop an offshore wind farm on Lake Erie, the first project of its kind in North America.

Announcing the team, LEEDCo president Dr Lorry Wagner said the developer selection was a major step forward in the process of establishing an offshore wind industry which began with a feasibility analysis and study, initiated nearly four years ago. ‘Our ambitious goals demand a world-class execution team,’ he said.

‘With these three major contributors in place as the developer, we now have the talent and broad range of expertise necessary to start this exciting endeavor.

‘We want Northern Ohio to be the epicenter of a new freshwater offshore wind power industry with associated manufacturing, shipping, and construction jobs.’

Bechtel, Cavallo and GLWEnergy have formed Great Lakes Ohio Wind, (GLOW), the company that will own and develop the project.

The initial project will be a five-turbine, 20MW pilot wind farm five to ten miles offshore Cleveland. Construction on the initial phase is tentatively scheduled to begin late 2012. By 2020, LEEDCo hopes to be generating 1000MW from lake winds and believes the economies of scale that can be obtained when building such large projects will reduce the cost of that energy to attractive levels.

Selection of the developer follows LEEDCo’s May 2010 announcement that GE is the intended supplier of the project’s direct-drive offshore wind turbines and maintenance.

For Alpha Ventus, Germany’s first offshore wind farm, Austrian crane maker Palfinger Systems supplied 24 cranes with a difference in order to speed up resupply and service operations at sea. Based on a service handling concept developed by Palfinger, its German sales partner Besco and wind power experts, each 5MW turbine has nacelle and add-on cranes specially adapted to the conditions in the turbine room and the nacelle environment to ensure they are not reliant on external lifting apparatus for supply and servicing work within a predictable framework.

According to Palfinger, using two different crane types enables work to be carried out in parallel and reduces the amount of time teams need spend on the structure. The platform crane on the base facilitates supply vessel loading and unloading via cable winch and is dimensioned according to tower base type. At Alpha Ventus, for example, Areva Multibrid’s six turbines employ a tripod design while the four-leg jacket of REpower’s six turbines enables larger cranes with a correspondingly higher performance to be adopted. Palfinger says the platform cranes can be operated, depending on type, up to a significant wave height of 2.0m in the North Sea and 1.5m in the Baltic.

Overhead, a compact Palfinger nacelle crane in the turbine room was chosen for its high load capabilities at close range. With its cable winch and 14m outreach when extended, this crane is an essential aid to turbine inspection, repair and maintenance activities.

Both cranes were pre-installed on the appropriate modules before going offshore, simplifying certifier acceptance while also assisting in operator and service team training.

Equity stake
Wood Group has acquired a significant equity stake in Scottish-headquartered renewable energy services consultancy SgurrEnergy, which employs around 100 people mainly based in its Glasgow office and also in Canada, China, India, Ireland, France and the US.

SgurrEnergy will join the Wood Group Kenny business unit, and will work closely on a number of projects with JP Kenny’s Offshore Renewables group whose current projects include the design and project management of an innovative Wave Hub project for the South West Regional Development Agency in Cornwall.

Wood Group CEO Steve Wayman said the new combination would ‘create a leading player in the renewable energy services sector’.

London Array warranty survey
GL Noble Denton has been awarded the marine warranty survey (MWS) service contract for the first 630MW phase of the giant London Array wind farm project 20km off the UK Kent and Essex coasts. Offshore construction is set to start early next year, with first-phase completion due by the end of 2012.

During the offshore installation of the 175 turbines for phase one, GL Noble Denton will confirm that technical risks are kept within acceptable levels. ‘The transportation and installation of huge, awkwardly shaped structures offshore involve risks that can only be mitigated by adhering to codes and standards,’ said Gabor Bohner, who heads GL Noble Denton’s department for marine operations and marine warranty survey in Hamburg.

The London Array project is being built by a consortium headed by Dong Energy. OE

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