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Heading for the Sea ...

After many years of building onshore wind farms, the industry is nowadays more and more focusing on offshore wind farms. And it seems that most countries currently active in this field are thinking in terms of a quantum leap. When comparing the capacity that is scheduled for offshore with the current installed onshore capacity, some people think things may be happening too quickly.
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{access view=!registered}Only logged in users can view the full text of the article.{/access}{access view=registered}For example, the Dutch government has set a target for the development of 6,000MW of wind power in the Dutch part of the North Sea by 2020. At present, the installed onshore capacity is a little above 1,000MW.  Also the UK offshore wind energy sector is booming at the moment. Scroby Sands, the second largest offshore farm in the world, has just become operational, and many more wind farms are planned. It is predicted that by 2010 almost 4,000MW will be generated by offshore wind in the UK. Similarly large increases also apply in other European countries and the USA.

It has been said before, but is worth repeating: building offshore wind farms does not mean just copying the onshore technology to offshore. The circumstances are completely different. In this issue of Windtech International we focus on some of the implications.

One of these implications is the manufacture of monopiles and transition pieces for offshore wind farms. As the turbines get bigger and farms are built in deeper water, manufacturers of these items need to be involved at an early stage in the design of the monopiles and transition pieces. In the interview on page 7, the Smulders Groep, which has a special facility in Belgium to produce monopiles and transition pieces, gives its view on this topic.

To help accomplish the ambitious goal of the Dutch government, the joint venture We@Sea has been formed. In order to meet the target, knowledge and technical expertise is required to build and operate wind farms in a sustainable way. A subsidy to gain expertise and knowledge for this goal was the driving force in the formation of the consortium. In the ‘Company in Focus’ on page 42 you will find a description of this consortium and how they intend to realise the target.

Another issue is safety at sea. The increase in the number of offshore wind farms increases the potential for vessels to collide with wind turbines and raises interesting legal issues including general contractual liabilities and the liabilities of contractors/operators to third parties. Ince & Co, an international law firm, give their view in the article published on page 30.

It is clear that the future of wind energy lies at sea and that new innovations and technological development is needed. Windtech International will keep you updated on these topics in future issues.

I wish you all much reading pleasure.

Floris Siteur
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