Apart perhaps from the US, Taiwan is probably the most promising export market for offshore wind energy, at least in the short term, as the high level of interest in the country from Europe clearly demonstrates
The Taiwanese Government hopes offshore wind will fill some of the capacity deficit left by the three nuclear power plants it plans to decommission by 2025. It has set a target of 3 GW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2025 and 4 GW by 2030. Natural gas, coal and other renewables will also contribute.
As Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s offshore wind analyst Tom Harries explained, to initiate development, the government has made 36 sites available for offshore wind development. All of these high-wind-speed and shallow-water sites are off the west coast in the Strait of Taiwan.
Site exclusivity is granted to the first developer to gain environmental impact assessment (EIA) approval for a given site before the end of 2017. A developer then has until the end of 2019 to secure a permit for the site.
On 29 November 2017 the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) announced that it had pre-approved environmental impact assessments for 19 offshore windfarms (final approval is still required and expected in the first quarter of 2018). Combined with three existing EIAs, this amounts to 10.68 GW – more than double Taiwan’s 2030 target.
Mr Harries explained that early attempts to secure EIA approval were rebuffed, with the EPA citing conservation concerns over the impact of piling noise on white dolphins. To alleviate these concerns, developers have proposed adopting Germany’s noise level restrictions for offshore wind development during construction.
However, developers face further hurdles, including securing a grid connection, signing a power purchase agreement and waiting for port infrastructure to be adapted to be able to support offshore wind construction and operations and maintenance activities.
“Experienced European offshore developers are driving the demand for projects, but there is also demand from domestic developers and from TaiPower, the state utility,” said Mr Harries. “In response to this supply surplus, the government is considering increasing its 2025 offshore wind target to 5.5 GW and could make an announcement early in 2018.”
Interest in the Taiwanese market has seen developers, original equipment manufacturers and other key players in the offshore wind supply chain establish offices in Taiwan and develop relationships with potential partners there.
Among them is Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, which signed a memorandum of understanding with Taiwan International Ports Corporation regarding developing Taichung harbour as an offshore wind business in December 2017.
The non-binding MOU will see the companies investigate possibilities for a potential manufacturing site, office facilities and staging areas. Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) also plans to open an offshore wind development office to enhance its responsiveness to customers. Its Taipei office will serve as a regional offshore wind hub in the Asia Pacific region, excluding mainland China.
“Signing the MOU demonstrates our strong desire to contribute to the development of offshore wind in Taiwan. We fully believe in the potential of this emerging market and wish to support it with our knowledge as an industry leader,” said Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy’s chief executive offshore Andreas Nauen.
“The offshore wind industry in Taiwan is looking at over 10 GW of projects,” said Mr Nauen. “In 2017, strong supportive signs were shown by the Taiwanese Government, with detailed grid capacity planning and an increase of the long-term ambitions.
“Similarly, significant milestones have been completed in the rest of the region. Japan is developing the first utility-scale projects, and Korea has now commissioned its first commercial-sized offshore wind power plant. We look forward to helping ensure that the right infrastructure is in place, as well as maintaining efforts towards further cost reductions.”
In 2016, Siemens Gamesa installed Taiwan’s first offshore windfarm, the 8 MW Formosa Phase 1 demonstration project.
December 2017 also saw GeoSea, part of DEME Group in Belgium, sign a co-operation agreement for the Taiwanese offshore wind market with CSBC Corporation, Taiwan’s largest shipyard.
GeoSea noted that, bolstered by Taiwan’s stable legal framework and favourable investment conditions, a diverse group of major international developers have submitted proposals that could bring the total installed offshore wind capacity to 12 GW or higher in the decade to come.
Together, GeoSea and CSBC will form a Taiwanese joint venture (JV) company that will undertake the transportation and installation of the foundations and wind turbines required for these windfarms.
The JV will become a contractor in its own right, combining GeoSea’s expertise with CSBC’s Taiwanese market knowledge, position as main proponent of the Taiwanese Government’s industrial strategy for offshore renewables and experience as a shipbuilder.
Subject to regulatory approval procedures, the JV will be incorporated in Taipei by the middle of 2018 and will start bidding for the upcoming offshore renewables developments immediately thereafter.
Early 2018 saw EOLFI and ACS – Cobra Concesiones, two well known players in floating wind power, combine their forces in Taiwan.
The deal between EOLFI, a French developer specialising in floating wind projects, and Cobra Concesiones, a Spanish industrial company wholly owned by ACS, saw Cobra Concesiones finalise a shareholding in Eolfi Greater China, a subsidiary of EOLFI, which has been active in Taiwan since 2012.
EOLFI is best known for developing the Groix & Belle-Île pre-commercial windfarm project 28 km off the coast of Brittany in France, a project that will see it install four 6 MW floating wind turbines that are due to be commissioned in 2021. Cobra Concesiones is developing the Kincardine offshore windfarm project in the UK, which will have a total installed capacity of 50 MW. This project is located approximately 15 km offshore Aberdeen.
In Taiwan, Eolfi Greater China has been developing a portfolio of five commercial floating windfarm projects with a target size of 500 MW each. Acquisition by Cobra Concesiones of a shareholding will secure and speed up the development of the projects. When the operation is completed, Cobra Concesiones will be the majority shareholder in Eolfi Greater China. EOLFI’s team will be in charge of projects development on the Atlantic coast.
“This partnership marks a milestone in our project development in Taiwan,” said EOLFI’s chairman Alain Delsupexhe. “Amongst other things, the partnership will give a boost to the W1N windfarm project off Taoyuan, which has already secured grid access approval by Taipower.” W1N is due to be commissioned in 2022. “This project brings to fruition the strategic initiative that we engaged in five years ago when we entered Taiwan,” said Mr Delsupexhe.
Readers will remember that, in 2017, DNV GL signed a memorandum of understanding with several regional players in Taiwan and established a certification team in Taipei to support local and foreign companies planning projects there.
“Installation rates for offshore wind in markets such as Asia depend on rapid development of the supply chains and enabling regulatory processes. As the focus moves from northern Europe to other emerging regions, it is essential that the industry learns from experience in mature markets and does not repeat mistakes,” said DNV GL at the time that the announcement was made. “The aim of the initiative is to facilitate knowledge transfer and technical co-operation, enabling future offshore wind leaders to build on the experience from mature markets.”
Industry stakeholders who signed the memorandum of understanding include CR Classification Society, Electronics Testing Center Taiwan, Metal Industries Research & Development Centre, Taiwan Electric Research and Testing Centre and the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research.
“Local knowledge from our partners, combined with our experience in offshore wind, will help industry in Taiwan accelerate its offshore wind targets and make offshore wind in Taiwan a reality,” said DNV GL’s executive vice president renewables Kim Mørk.