Cantabria organizes the first floating marine energy
Cantabria Government trought Grupo SODERCAN along Cantabria University organizes the
first Conference & Exhibition “Cantabria Sea of Innovation Conference 2010” to be held
December 2-3, 2010 at Santander Exposition and Congress Palace
Under Slogan “Technology development and floating marine energy market”, the
conference is focusing on following topics:
• Market situation and marine floating energy industry development.
• Marine energies within renewable energies: technology & science challenges.
• Eolic floating marine projects
• Complement between floating wind energy and ocean energy (wave energy)
• Marine energy, a profitable practice and its financing.
Parties dealing with research will set round tables: worldwide leaders companies, academy
professors, experts, researchers and top association members of the sector, among others. In
addition, this event is conceived as a framework to generate an extra added value to all
participants: information sharing, project presentation to investors, technology information &
broadcasting, business, etc… and as an opportunity to introduce your organization or research
center in this event which aims to become a standard in marine energy, specially in offshore
floating wind energy worldwide.
Why we organize a conference on technology and market
development of marine energy floating?
In 2009, 584MW wind marine energy were installed worldwide, 56% over the previous year.
2,400 MW are already installed and connected to the network, there are 43 offshore wind farms
in 9 European countries. For 2011, 1,500 MW are expected to be installed.
Germany and UK are leading this bet, they are designing a Rate Framework for long-term,
which helps to picture the profitability of projects. At the same time, these countries are
generating test centers and technological facilities where promoters or developers, turbine
manufacturers and the supply chain providers could test their new technologies. Their
budgeting effort is evident.
Facing this situation, the turbine manufacturers are designing new prototypes specifically
designed for the marine environment (not adapted from land environment), having the objective
to reduce both, the cost per megawatt per turbine, as their maintenance costs.
In turn, there is a market linked to wind or eolic promoters or developers trying to significantly
reduce the costs associated with installation and logistics of these parks, the "balance of plant",
which is about 70% of parks total costs and where is the need of appropriate and feasible a
significant improvement in their cost.
Total of € 8,000 million is estimated to invest in this sector till 2020 in order to improve the
prospects of this sector.
In short, if we add funds and research grants at regional, national and European level, the funds
committed for offshore wind or eolic marine are enormous, arising the following questions: Is
this a reliable bet? What weaknesses or threats are involved?
Offshore and wave energy, are they a reliable bet?
For the first question, the answer can not be blunter and have a greater consensus; the offshore
wind energy is one of best promising technologies, their market potential in terms of availability
and characteristics of strength and predictability, categorized this one as the energy for the
future. Moreover, Europe holds an interested in maintaining and improve their technological
What weaknesses or threats are involved?
Responding to the second question, this initial assessment should not prevent to consider
possible threats or issues. In the short term, parks at depths below 35 meters are guaranteed to
start-up and its financing.
However, the area available with these features and good wind resources are limited and
mainly locatede in areas of the North Sea and Maltic Sea. For greater depths, size and weight
of the components required more sofisticated and bulky foundations for the generators, causing
the investment cost per MW installed arise to heaven. Only this foundation can contribute to
30% of the total cost of the park, depending on the depth and distance from shore, can reach
3.5 billion euros per MW, as three times more than on land. This high ratio requires its reduction
by increasing volume, parks size, which generates large liquidity needs, in times when banks
are avoiding high risk. Therefore uncertainties still in this sector.
In addition, there is a consensus in the industry, an axiom assumed by all, which considers the
floating eolic as an alternative to medium term, starting 2017 or 2020. The experts based this
though on economic and technological aspects with very few experiences so far as today
(Hywind, Blue H. ..). What is perhaps underlie this axiom, is the lack of current interest in the
major manufacturers and industry promoters of this sector, who are focus of short-term
business and its limited human and technical resources which are focus on projects for the next
two or three years in shallow water.
Is it a global bet?
But this strategy is a risk that can cause failure throughout the model. The commitment to clean
energy and renewables, has become a global commitment, countries like USA, Korea, Japan or
even China, have a clear strategy in marine energy.
All these countries have a high wind or eolic potential in deep water and count on
entrepreneurship, technological and financial capacity to undertake such projects. If they focus
their resources to this market floating technology could significantly accelerate time to market
for a replacement technology for actual one, making it more efficient, gain market position and
leave the obsolete technology after exhausting shallow surfaces. The Boston Consulting Group
Sudy "The offshore Valuation" states that 245,000 MW floating technology could be
implemented for the United Kingdom, being the marine technology with largest potential. If
United Kingdom, which is the most attractive market for cemented technology, has these
characteristics, extrapolating to the global level, we would lose an important market.
What should we do in Europe?
Do not miss the experience and gained position over these countries. Work on both lines
(grounded and floating), but encouraging and providing incentives to manufacturers and
developers to advance their current research projects in floating technology. At this point,
National and European institutions should play a leading role by delivering its programs and
funds to support both technologies.
This bet and leadership we ask to institutions have added advantages. From the European point
of view, accelerating the development for floating technology allows floating offshore wind
commitment and widespread throughout Europe, involving countries such as Spain, France,
Italy or Greece, with no current presence in the offshore wind but with a great wind resource in
From the corporate point of view, this would facilitate the entry of many experienced developers
in other renewable energies, especially wind turbine manufacturers in an industry with high
technological barriers, which 90% is dominated by two leaders, Vestas and Siemens. Carrying
a shared strategy with floating prototypes can help them to become differentiated and create a
business opportunities in countries they already have infrastructure, supply chain providers and
experienced staff in many cases,
For local industry, in full pursuit of diversification alternatives, is an opportunity to join through
R&D projects in a sector with strong potential. Engineering companies and other companies in
the construction sector, automotive components, ICT sector can contribute its expertise in the
extended value chain of offshore wind.
Another additional advantage, comes from floating wind technology which may have strong
synergies with other ocean energy, especially those with floating devices such as wave power..
This complementarity can speed up the arrival of the commercial phase. The possibility of
hybrid prototypes which simultaneously seize the wind and waves or currents could be an
alternative to achieve a more constant supply to reduce the cost of megawatt produced.
Last but not least, especially for Mediterranean countries, the parks could be located at
distances beyond 15 km where the social rejection of these facilities by the visual impact would
And in Cantabria
Cantabria is betting for renewable energy in the region, particularly for marine energy. A clear
example is the creation of the Marine Renewable Energy Cluster. A sector of activity with a
significant growth potential has been detected, business and technology offering more relevant
to the region has been identified and involved in this ambitious project and has attracted the
interest shown by leading companies worldwide, positioning the R&D&i in our region on the
international map of marine renewables. The evolution of this project has been supported by the
Ministry of Science and Innovation with the recent signing of the Convention in our community
which fund 70 million euros for the provision of technological equipment and the generation of
R&D&i in marine renewables sector.
Conference will be held on December, 3rd and 4th at the Santander Exposition and Congress
Palace, this conference will be the first in the world with a high degree of specialization in
Floating technology, and will serve to drill down in all previous issues. We intend to gather all
actors involved in this bet, technologists, public agencies, research centers, investors as
participants with a meeting place to meet and establish contacts and potential collaborations.