Imagine a wind turbine the height of the Eiffel tower, floating in the sea, connected to the shore via a floating substation, its blades rotating with tip speeds of more than 300km/h. What may sound like a daring experiment is soon to become reality off the shores of France. By 2030, France is striving to start projects producing a total of 18 Gigawatt, a third of which from floating windfarms and two thirds from grounded windfarms. This is an ambitious undertaking, as it equals today's worldwide installed offshore wind energy capacity!
Some of the French waters are too deep for traditional wind turbine foundations. This is why a third of all upcoming projects will use floating turbines. These windmills are at the forefront of technology, particularly their floaters, moorings and power cables drifting in the water. But due to their novelty and complexity, such projects carry a number of risks.
What can (Re-) Insurance contribute to these offshore wind projects and towards the Energy Transition? Last week, Swiss Re brought together specialists from the French insurance industry and experts from the offshore wind industry to find answers to this question and discuss some of the key challenges involved.
Matthieu Monnier from France Energie Eolienne described the breadth of work which is happening along the whole value chain, from improved administrative procedures and cost optimization to public acceptance initiatives and European knowledge transfer. Frédéric Petit of Siemens Gamesa, the dominant provider of offshore turbines to date, explained the enormous, ongoing technical progress and cost reductions which have brought recently awarded offshore wind projects to grid parity. No more subsidies required! Christian Berhault from Centrale Nantes provided an insight into the extensive research and testing which is being undertaken to bring floating windparks to the same level of reliability and profitability as the fixed ones. Hugues Delanoue from LOC raised awareness how their Marine Warranty Surveyors can avoid financial loss during transport and installation.
At Swiss Re we are committed to partnering with our clients and contributing our part, as presented by our experts Jimmy Keime and Patrice Nigon: Strengthening technical knowledge in our industry. Sharing our broad experience from wind projects around the world. Optimising the insurance product to cover all protection needs.
The latter means that these projects may need protection against cyber threats and wind volatility. Cyber because the online monitoring systems not only enable early detection of problems, but also create potential entry points to manipulate or damage a turbine. Wind volatility because investors may aim for stable returns rather than substantial year-on-year fluctuations. Such stability can be achieved with Swiss Re's Wind Resource Volatility Product.
The undertaking remains complex and ambitious. The lively discussions during this day demonstrated the value, but also the need for dialogue between insurance and the wind energy sector. (Re)insurers need to get ready for the challenge of the ambitious French offshore wind projects - which we all want to succeed.
Category: Sustainable energy: Wind