Quantifying improvements in the installation of offshore wind farms

Roberto Lacal-Arantegui 1, José María Yusta-Loyo2, José Antonio Domínguez2
1European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Petten, North Holland, The Netherlands, 2Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain


Offshore wind energy has been with us since 1990, and it has presented a huge potential. However, this potential has not realised to date because of the complexity and related high cost (again: to date) of installing wind turbines in the seas. However, this is set to change. The technology improvements of the last ten years have led to cost reductions achieved during the last few years and to even more radical cost reductions committed for the next five years by the large market players.
This paper analyses the evidence behind cost reduction in one of the most significant cost elements of offshore wind farms, the installation of foundations and turbines. With data on daily installation rates from 2000 to 2016, this paper shows that advances -in the form of reductions in installation time- were mild until 2012, and that since 2013 these advances have become more radical.


We based our analysis on installation milestones of turbines of foundations: (a) load of turbine/foundation at the operations harbour, and (b) day last turbine/foundation was installed. Then we quantified the rate of installation of all OWF since 2000 till 2016, and analysed the data and obtained conclusions.


Installation rate of foundations is strongly related to the kind of foundation, with non-monopile foundations requiring significantly longer. Time required to install monopiles has been reducing per monopile, but it has been greatly reduced if the indicator used is per megawatt of supported turbine capacity.


The installation of turbines (on all kinds of foundations) has also reduced the time needed but it presents less steep reduction curve. The improvements were most radical for wind farms installed since 2013.


This work should help understand how the improvements of installation rates have been realised, and to trigger a discussion on the elements that will make possible further reduction in installation time.