A new tool to assess off-shore wind power logistics costs

Logistics is an important competitive factor for the offshore wind industry. With a share of up to 20% of total cost, logistics expenses have a significant impact on the profitability of a wind farm. However, compared to other industries, the wind energy sector is still far away from transparency in logistics costs. A particular challenge for the maritime supply chain results from the effects of disturbances such as the influence of weather conditions, which considerably complicate the planning of a holistic logistics concept.

Innovations based on tight co-operation between researchers and industry are required to tackle problems like this. A good example of such cooperation is the Offshore Logistics Diagnostic tool developed by the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL), Fraunhofer IFF, and Logistics Service Agency Bremerhaven. It was used in practice with the energy supplier EnBW to simulate maritime logistics processes for the construction of the offshore wind farm Baltic 2. It is the first offshore logistics planning tool based on dynamic simulation technology that has been successfully used in practice. The tool supports the planning of logistics concepts as well as the verification of previously proposed concepts for the construction of offshore wind farms. It can therefore support all actors involved, including logistics service providers, energy suppliers, manufacturers, shipping companies, port operators, engineers, or banks and insurance companies.

Temporal and financial implications of disturbances in the maritime supply chain – such as weather conditions – can already be considered in the planning phase. By simulating different scenarios, it is possible to compare alternative maritime logistics concepts and to identify potentially critical bottlenecks and delays. The tool enables the development of individual and customized logistics strategies and a sophisticated optimization of the offshore logistics supply chain. In cooperation with the customer, it is possible to develop customized adoptions of the Offshore Logistics Diagnostic tool which consider individual needs and challenges of specific logistics questions.

Several countries within the Northern Dimension area are aiming to strengthen the renewable energy sector to reduce the dependency of energy imports. One focus is the offshore wind industry. In different countries different technical as well as logistics solutions have been developed, depending on weather conditions (wind, waves, ice), environmental restrictions, existing port facilities and logistical equipment for heavy load handling (such as installation vessels, cranes and quay capacities).

Still, the industry has not reached cost effectiveness. A comparison of different national logistics concepts and strategies, taking account of existing regional restrictions could be beneficial for all the ND countries. Lessons learnt and best practices could be summarized and used for the planning process of further wind farms in the Baltic or the Northern Sea.

Prof. Dr. Kerstin Lange
ISL Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics

ISL is a NDI Network member.