The sector considers that the offshore wind business has reached the ideal point of maturity for its development, with a wide range of opportunities awaiting the next auctions.
Although a world reference in the field of wind power, Spain has been relegated to the background in the development of offshore wind power for technical reasons. The great depth of the territorial waters of the Peninsula makes it impossible to install wind turbines fixed to the seabed, but the progress of floating marine wind turbines – whose wind turbines are located on platforms anchored but floating in the sea – have broken down this barrier, completely changing the outlook around one of the most promising companies in the field of renewable energies.
This scenario triggered the interest of energy groups to take a stand and build new projects. The government itself has raised its expectations, with a roadmap that aims to achieve between 1,000 and 3,000 megawatts of floating offshore wind by 2030. This target represents, in the best case, 40% of the target set by the European Union. . The recent meeting on Elica marina, organized by EXPANSIN in collaboration with Applus+, focused on these aspects.
Experts agreed that Spain is facing the ideal situation to engage in floating offshore wind turbines, thanks to the maturity of the technology. “It is time to establish a regulated framework and, if the auctions take place next year and the construction times are adequate, we can reach this range between 1,000 and 3,000 megawatts by 2030,” said Juan Ferrero, head of renewable energy development in Spain of Naturgy, although he warned that he is likely to be closer to the bottom of the range than the top.
In the same vein, “the technical development of floating platforms offers the opportunity for countries in southern Europe to enter this technology. The bases for achieving this are lacking: a stable regulatory framework and planning clear,” said Ignacio Gutirrez Santalo, manager of Elica Marina in Spain at Iberdrola Renovables. In this regard, he mentioned two difficulties in achieving such an ambitious objective: “The treatment of these projects is not easy for a country without experience because it requires a union between the Administration and the suppliers; moreover, the value chain could become saturated.
“Offshore wind power is not only an opportunity for the energy transition, but it also offers significant advantages in areas such as industry and the economy”, explained Susana Baares, head of the studies department at Redeia. . As well as incorporating sustainability and long-term vision criteria, Baares agreed that “it is essential that there is a specific regulatory framework and network deployment model that provides us with predictability and a defined timeline. , around which we can align all agents”.
Pablo Alcn Valero, Head of Offshore at Capital Energy, said that “the situation is favorable because sustainability and energy independence are now more important than ever, and floating wind is part of this path”. The representative of Capital Energy, which reached an agreement with Shell to go hand in hand in these projects, underlined that the pace had to be accelerated in order not to miss this train: “We are no longer in the pre-commercial phase , but commercial; it’s important to get the auctions in the coming months so we don’t get left behind.
For his part, Sergio Merelo, Director of Renewable Energies at Applus+, confirmed that “Spain is one of the best countries to develop floating wind power, both because of the environmental conditions and our experience and industrial capacity. dedicated to offshore”. Along with the need to promote renewable energies and move towards sustainability, Merelo stressed that “the more varied the mix in Spain, the lower the risks. In the current situation, we must seek greater energy independence” .
The proposed target of 3,000 megawatts requires significant investment in projects and therefore companies tend to seek alliances to reduce risk. As Ignacio Gutirrez Santalo pointed out, “this requires high investments that can exceed 10,000 million euros”. Offshore, added the boss of Iberdrola, “is attractive to governments because of its ability to generate local industry and drive the entire value chain”.
From a grid perspective, “the main challenges are being able to reach high voltages with dynamic cables, and substations that also need to be floating,” said Susana Baares.
For the local market to develop, Juan Ferrero underlined that “the transformation of ports is crucial: an industry must be created in the ports to promote the manufacture and installation of floats and wind turbines”. The representative of Naturgy estimated that the first projects must have a “powerful commercial size, at least greater than 200 megawatts so that they have a driving capacity”.
Until the government defines the areas where the projects should be developed, everything seems to indicate that the Canary Islands will be the spearhead of offshore wind turbines in Spain. Pablo Alcn Valero said that “knowing the areas will be essential because it will allow us to act”. Until then, the industry remains confined.
As Sergio Merelo concluded, “the turning point will be the auction, which we hope will come out between the first and second quarters of 2023, so that everything starts to move and the areas are clarified”.
What the experts say
- Ignacio Gutirrez, manager of Elica Marina in Spain at Iberdrola Renovables | “Offshore is attractive to governments because of its ability to generate local industry”
- Juan Ferrero, head of renewable energy development in Spain at Naturgy | “It is time to establish a regulated framework and a roadmap for wind turbines”
- Sergio Merelo, Director of Renewable Energy at Applus+| “Spain is one of the best countries to develop floating wind turbines, due to conditions and experience”
- Susana Baares, Head of the Redeia Studies Department | “Offshore wind power offers significant advantages in areas such as industrial and economic”
- Pablo Alcn, Offshore Manager at Capital Energy | “The situation is favorable because of the importance of energy independence and sustainability”