Larger, higher efficiency turbines and the “clustering” of project resources are driving down offshore wind maintenance costs as they become increasingly important in project valuations, Tom Harries, Wind Energy Analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), said.
Technology advancements and growing installation experience have sliced offshore wind costs, producing record-low tender prices across Europe.
In September, the UK government awarded three new UK offshore wind contracts at prices as low as 57.50 pounds per MWh, half the price of contracts awarded in the last tender in February 2015. This followed record-low prices in Denmark, Netherlands and Germany over the last year.
Larger, higher efficiency turbines and improved installation practices have sliced capital expenditure costs, raising the importance of operational expenditure (opex) within project financing.
Technology gains are having a dramatic impact on offshore operations and maintenance (O&M) spending, as well as installation costs, Harries told the Offshore Wind Europe 2017 conference on November 14.
BNEF estimates growing turbine capacities directly impact as much as 60% of O&M costs, he said.
Higher capacity turbines require less maintenance resources per MW, reducing the outlay for spare parts, vessels and personnel during operations.
"Assuming turbines are getting more reliable, in reality you can really start shaving 60% of these maintenance costs," Harries said.
"We are not saying you are going to eradicate all that 60%, but you can really bring down that chunk by using more powerful turbines," he said.