Siemens Windpower

3 questions for Professor Henrik Stiesdal

Wednesday 31 May 17

Until 2014 Henrik Stiesdal was the Chief Technology Officer of Siemens Wind Power. During his professional career, Stiesdal has made more than 175 inventions and has received more than 650 patents related to wind power technology. 2016 he became affiliate professor at DTU Wind Energy.

Henrik Stiesdal, affiliate professor at DTU Wind Energy, answers three questions on offshore wind.

1. What is the biggest challenge to offshore wind today?
The single biggest challenge to the industry is actually not directly related to the technology or business itself, but to the overall character of renewable energy production. In countries and regions with high penetration of wind power the intermittency of the energy production is more and more seen as an obstacle to further development. Consequently, we need to develop storage and interconnectors.

Besides this, we are currently in the process of implementing the necessary industrialization, leaving behind the legacy from the offshore oil and gas industry with its high cost levels and transforming to a genuinely industrialized industry. But this is not really a challenge per se, it is more a process that is underway and is still not completed.

Secondary factors may also grow to be real challenges, including problems with birds and marine mammals. We need to minimize the environmental impact and develop robust deterrent methods towards migrating birds.

2. What determines who will hold the market in the future?
For the wind turbine manufacturers, it is about having the largest, most robust and most competitive turbine on the market. One also needs to be rock solid financially. At this time it is difficult to see anybody challenging the “big three”, comprising Siemens, MHI Vestas, and GE.

For the infrastructure suppliers, it is all about industrialization, taking the final step away from the world of oil and gas to the world of wind. The winners will be those who manage the transition fastest.

For the developers, it is about consistent focus on cost, exploring innovation at all levels of infrastructure and execution, and avoiding the stacked contingencies that have been the norm.

3. How do we make today´s technology more competitive? 
The sharp reductions in the cost of energy from offshore wind power are the result of a combination of factors. Larger turbines, larger volumes, and dedicated industrialization of the supply chain have been the main technical drivers, and in addition the introduction of auction systems has served to sharpen competition.

In the future I believe that the following technological improvements will be important:

  • Industrialized foundations (fixed and floating)
  • 66 kV grid connections w/o substations
  • Improved aerodynamics, including active systems to further improve the ratio of AEP per load
  • Improved forward-sensing tools to prevent the rotor from seeing the largest operational extreme loads – in practice this means Lidar-based control
  • Improved power conversion arrangements