MHI Vestas raises sights, wind doubles up & why Nigg could be big anew in North Sea

  • Oct 17, 2020
  • Recharge News

MHI Vestas can fairly claim to have led the charge of supersized offshore wind turbines – its machines are the largest actually operating in the seas off Europe and it was the first to unwrap a 10MW model.

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But as its rivals push upwards to 15MW the heat was on the Danish-Japanese joint venture, and CEO Philippe Kavafyan duly revealed this week that “now is the time to take the next step in size”.

MHI Vestas will unveil a significant nameplate scale-up from the V164/174 platform by early next year at the latest, putting it in contention for giant projects that will be installed around the world from the mid-2020s.

The potential importance of staying in the same ballpark as the rest was underlined when Recharge revealed that US offshore pioneer Vineyard Wind is mulling a larger turbine than the MHI Vestas 9.5MW machine it originally intended to use, after a preferred supplier agreement between the two lapsed.

Bigger turbines also loomed large as utility Dominion Energy confirmed to Recharge that an order flagged by shipbuilder Keppel is the long-heralded $500bn ‘all-American’ installation vessel that will equip its 2.6GW project off Virginia with the world's largest machines from Siemens Gamesa.

MHI Vestas boss Kavafyan featured elsewhere on the Recharge website in another capacity, in an exclusive interview marking his newly-appointed status as chairman of industry body WindEurope.

In a wide ranging discussion with Recharge Editor-in-Chief Darius Snieckus, Kavafyan said he saw plenty of grounds for optimism for wind power on- and offshore, despite the buffeting of the Covid-19 epidemic – as long as governments match their words with policy actions, especially in key areas like speeding-up permitting.

The importance of that was underlined when WindEurope unveiled its flagship report on the industry’s prospects, which predicts capacity could almost double in Europe to 400GW by 2030, bringing with it an associated economic development boom and jobs bonanza, if nations follow through on their climate pledges – but a far lower build-out and a loss of posts if they don’t.

The UK offshore wind sector has been the subject of plenty of words in recent weeks, not least from Prime Minister Boris ‘Saudi Arabia’ Johnson.

What the UK sector really wants to see is investment and action – and Recharge exclusively revealed the potential for a big dose of the former as investors close in on building Britain’s largest offshore wind fabrication plant to supply towers and foundations from Nigg in the Scottish Highlands.

As for the action, things slipped a little when the UK Crown Estate said it would now not award leases for up to 8.5GW of new Round 4 acreage until 2022 – but insisted the projects could still play a part in Johnson’s ambition to have a 40GW fleet turning in British waters by 2030.