The Applus+ Group organised a roundtable with the Expansión newspaper focused on offshore wind. Big clean energy companies, including Naturgy, Iberdrola, Redeia and Capital Energy, were in attendance. All of them have their eyes set on the next auction, expected in early 2023.
Around the table were: Juan Ferrero, Head of Renewable Development at Naturgy in Spain; Igancio Gutiérrez Santalo, Head of Offshore Wind at Iberdrola Renovables in Spain; Susana Bañares, Head of Studies Department at Redeia; and Pablo Alcón Valero, Head of Offshore at Capital Energy. The speakers agreed that now is the time to commit to this technology in order to move towards energy independence, which is needed now more than ever, and towards the energy transition and sustainability.
Sergio Merelo, the Renewables Director at Applus+, pointed out that Spain is “one of the best” countries for driving floating offshore wind, not only because of its environmental conditions but also its accumulated experience in renewables. Up until now, offshore wind has not been developed much in Spain because the depth of the seabed in Spanish territorial waters made it difficult to install wind turbines. However, the technology has been developed enough to overcome this obstacle thanks to different floating solutions that have already been tested.
“Spain is a benchmark in onshore wind, our installed capacity has made us fifth or sixth in the world currently, and for years we were number one. Applus+ has provided quality control services in the wind industry for the past 20 years. In Spain, we were the pioneers of the initial wind and concentrated solar projects, which shows how long we have been in this sector,” explained Merelo. Other details from the discussion to highlight: Spain has a very strong industrial capacity, especially in the manufacturing of the current offshore wind platforms that are then exported. "Our industry is very well prepared for this undertaking and we cannot miss this opportunity," the speakers added.
Floating offshore wind is at a key point in its development in Spain: Of the 27 floating wind turbine prototypes now in operation worldwide, seven are Spanish. The Spanish state plan aims to install between 1,000 and 3,000 MW of offshore energy by 2030. Experts believe that one of the key territories for driving this technology is the Canary Islands due to its uniqueness: the high energy generation costs in the archipelago allow offshore wind to be competitive.
The speakers pointed out that the key aspects of the successful development of offshore wind in Spain are: stable regulation, sufficient processing and public-private collaboration to define the model - whether or not it’s centralised - and the zones. These must allow both flexibility and scale, as well as the formation of large business alliances to share costs and risks, as these projects can exceed 10,000 million euros in investment. From a technical point of view, one of the challenges is the interconnection of the plants with the mainland through dynamic cables and floating substations.
To meet the established objectives, it will also be necessary to establish a timetable, ensure business continuity for investors, and provide both a reliable supply and a continuous dialogue between new and old participants, including the communities affected by its implementation. The impact on the natural marine environment will also have to be taken into account, always with a long-term vision in mind and seeking the lowest impact possible.
Speakers pointed out that offshore wind will boost local employment and provide opportunities for the shipbuilding industry. Ports will have to undergo a transformation, as well as the entire logistics chain and the quality control and certification services industry, which are key to guaranteeing the safety and viability of projects. That’s where Applus+ plays a strategic role. The Group will continue to invest in new inspection solutions that are more sustainable and efficient, incorporating the latest digital technologies.
The speakers discussed the need to promote dialogue platforms for a more global vision. They also marked the first step towards successful mass rollout in Spain: "Between all market agents, we must complete a first phase of socially and technically exemplary projects that meet deadlines and costs. Projects of over 200 MW, of a certain scale, with very demanding environmental impact studies and with the safety standards required for this type of project". Once again, Applus+ will play a key role in this area.