Logistics in offshore wind [article]

Thomas Poulsen
2018 The PhD Series of the Faculty of Engineering and Science  
PREFACE The clean-energy transition had already commenced towards the end of the 2000s when the early foundations of this research were laid. With this transformation towards the production of clean energy, new shipping commodities had emerged with different transportation requirements. When reviewing different renewable energy forms from an angle of logistics, wind energy stood out as being particularly complex, and comparatively under-researched within academia. By comparison, solar power
more » ... nstrates relatively simple logistics, with solar panels that can be shipped in standard ocean freight containers and stored in warehouses. Although based on a bulk supply chain, it was similarly ascertained through analysis leading up to this research that biomass logistics was also executed in a very standardized supply chain for commodities such as wood pellets and wood chips. The antecedent of this research concentrated on logistics for wind turbines erected onshore: It became clear that the firms involved in shipping, logistics, and ports had little or no influence on the design of the shipping commodity itself. The transport asset design and required capabilities were consequently largely decided by the manufacturers of the wind turbines. As wind turbines grew bigger in size, thus increasing the dimensions, volume, and weight of the individual parts, considerations were not given to potential downstream logistics implications. The shipping, logistics, and port firms serving the growing wind industry were, however, suffering greatly from their assets being rendered inadequate or even obsolete very quickly as well as from people, skills, and processes constantly in need of alterations, upgrades, and in some cases, complete reengineering. These factors put a lot of pressure on costs and made developing logistics standards difficult. Logistics seemed particularly challenging within offshore wind. Once offshore, the influence of the harsh conditions at sea made logistics a lot more challenging, complex, and some 5-10 times more expensive than logistics ashore according to expert opinion holders interviewed before the commencement of this research. Coupled with the expected step-change in terms of wind turbine sizes and weight for offshore machines, the logistics chain from the port to the offshore wind farm site seemed complex to manage both during construction and during the ensuing operations phase for service purposes. However, many different logistics chains seemed to exist and form part of the overall logistics context. Inbound to the manufacturing sites, standard logistics chains ensured that offshore wind turbines and balance of plant components could be assembled and/or manufactured. The assembly process was made possible by complex factory logistics set-ups that included storage solutions in warehouses and yards depending on what was manufactured at a given site. And outbound from the factories to the ports, large fully assembled offshore wind components were starting to challenge the upper limits of existing land-based infrastructure leading to plans to set up manufacturing and assembly operations near waterways. Compared to offshore oil and gas installations, offshore wind farms had many small wind turbine power units instead of one or a few offshore oil and gas platforms within a site. This made the logistics challenge different for offshore wind. Developing a better understanding of logistics in offshore wind therefore seemed to be an interesting topic with little prior research available. This view was shared by Aalborg University that already had several research groups within the area of wind energy as well as several research groups that looked at logistics or supply chain management. A hybrid of wind energy and logistics, logistics in offshore wind, was therefore an interesting proposition to Aalborg University and the research was rooted in the Department of Materials and Production (then Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering). External funding was obtained and as such, this research was made possible by grant 2012-097 from Den Danske Maritime Fond (the Danish Maritime Foundation). The Danish Maritime Foundation made the grant contingent upon the research output being useful to industry and decreed that a Reference Group be formed to support the research endeavors. Inaugurated in a Danish offshore wind supply chain setting, the Reference Group was put in place. This researcher recruited the member firms and defined the forum meeting structure. The Reference Group has been expanded over time and remained in place throughout the entire life-span of this project up until this time. The Reference Group has given valuable insights and guidance throughout the PhD research duration. In addition, critical case access has been obtained through Reference Group members. This PhD study balances the goal to provide sound as well as academically founded advances of science-rooted gaps in academic literature using scholarly methods with the objective to also provide results with managerial impact. V SUMMARY IN ENGLISH The global onshore and offshore wind markets were found to be diverging with onshore turbines having reached their maximum size in terms of yield, volume, and weight. Not within immediate line of sight and without generating any significant noise or vibration challenges, no upper boundary existed for wind turbines placed offshore in the sea. As the near-shore locations were slowly getting occupied, offshore wind farms had to move farther offshore into deeper waters and this presented several logistics challenges. A literature review revealed that logistics in general is hard to define and may be context dependent. In addition, logistics in offshore wind was not well researched in general. The cost of logistics had not been defined for offshore wind and comparisons of logistics costs at a line-item level across different cost studies had not been performed. The characteristics of logistics in emerging offshore wind markets were not well understood and scientific literature on the supply chains of renewable energy did not include an assessment of whether the supply chains were indeed ready for the planned government diffusion of these energy sources, including logistics in offshore wind. Three research questions were defined. The first focused on generating a better understanding of how logistics is organized in a broad sense within offshore wind and whether logistics, as a scientific discipline, is considered to be of importance. The objective of the second research question was to establish the costs of logistics in offshore wind. And the third focused on determining the characteristics of logistics in mature versus the new and emerging markets derived from the globalization of offshore wind. Empirical data had to be collected in different manners. The case study method was chosen as it was perceived to be flexible enough to support the research design being crafted. Several case studies were procured and from seven possible main case studies, three were prioritized as being of primary focus for this research. Empirical data was collected using a mix of semi-structured interviews, formal interviews, surveys, action research / participant observation, and desktop studies. The data was analyzed along different dimensions with different objectives. Besides the academic objectives, some of the case studies had more purposes including exams for master's students or particular deliverables towards the case organization. In other instances, analysis results were contrasted and avenues of value were combined in order for the analyses to yield contributions which led to the publication of a total of five peer-reviewed manuscripts. The contributions from the research were based on the gaps identified in academic literature. As such, the first research question was answered by first providing a proposed definition of logistics in offshore wind. The first research question was partly answered by providing a directional understanding of the costs of logistics in offshore wind as seen in comparison to capital expenditure, operating expenditure, and levelized L O G I S T I C S I N O F F S H O R E W I N D V I cost of energy. Although this was essentially the answer to the second research question, the relatively high percentage share of logistics costs provided the answer that logistics is probably not assigned the level of importance in academia, nor industry, that it deserves. The answer to the second research question was further amplified by a contribution pertaining to possible bias in the use of cost models on the part of the institutions, organizations, or individuals who set up the assumptions and decided on the different attributes to utilize. In addition, it was found that offshore logistics costs are not properly accounted for or defined in government sponsored and industry-wide studies. The answer to the third research question was two-fold. Firstly, it was found that significant characteristics of the Chinese emerging offshore wind market were different from those in the more mature markets of Europe. Secondly, an analysis of supply chain readiness, using the lens of logistics to evaluate, revealed that the supply chain is not ready for the projected diffusion targets of governments at this time. This research has yielded a number of specific suggestions on how scientists may perform additional research with a focus on logistics in offshore wind. V I I SAMMENDRAG (SUMMARY IN DANISH) De globale markeder for land-og havvindmøller befandt sig ved en skillevej, da landvindmøller nåede en maksimumstørrelse i forhold til ydeevne, volumen og vaegt. For havvindmøller eksisterede der ingen øvre graenser, da de ikke stod i direkte synsfelt og heller ikke udsatte mennesker for vibrations-eller støjgener. Da de kystnaere områder for havvindmøller langsomt begyndte at blive besat, måtte havvindmølleparker flyttes ud på dybere vand, og dette medførte adskillige logistikmaessige udfordringer. Et litteraturstudie har vist, at begrebet logistik generelt er svaert at definere og at definitionen ofte er afhaengig af konteksten. Derudover har logistik indenfor havvindmølleparker ikke vaeret grundigt forskningsmaessigt belyst. Logistikomkostningerne har ikke vaeret defineret for havvindmølleparker, og der har ikke vaeret foretaget sammenligninger af logistikomkostninger, på et omkostningslinjeniveau, på tvaers af flere omkostningsstudier. Indenfor nye havvindmøllemarkeder under udvikling er logistik ikke godt karakteriseret, og den videnskabelige litteratur om forsyningskaeder indenfor vedvarende energi har heller ikke inkluderet en logistikmaessig vurdering af, om forsyningskaederne er klar til udbredelse af disse vedvarende energikilder såsom havvindmøller, som forskellige nationer planlaegger. Tre forskningsspørgsmål blev defineret. Det første fokuserede på at opbygge en bedre forståelse af, hvordan logistik er organiseret i en bred forstand indenfor havvindmølleindustrien, samt at forstå, hvorvidt logistik er betragtet som vaerende betydningsfuld som en videnskabelig disciplin. Det andet fokuserede på at estimere, hvad omkostningerne er for logistik indenfor havvindmøller. Det tredje fokuserede på at karakterisere logistik i veletablerede markeder i forhold til de nyetablerede markeder, der er opstået som resultat af den igangvaerende globalisering af havvindmølleindustrien. Den empiriske dataindsamling foregik ved hjaelp af forskellige arbejdsgange. Case studie-metoden blev valgt ud fra den opfattelse, at denne metode var fleksibel nok til at understøtte det udviklede studiedesign. Flere case studier blev kultiveret, og ud af syv mulige case studier blev tre prioriteret som vaerende af primaer interesse for denne forskning. Empirisk data blev indsamlet ved hjaelp af semi-strukturerede interviews, formelle interviews, spørgeskemaundersøgelser, aktionsforskning / deltager observation samt desktop studier. De indsamlede data blev analyseret udad flere dimensioner og med flere formål. Nogle af case studierne skulle udover at inkludere dele af ovennaevnte forskningsspørgsmål også bruges til forskellige eksaminer for kandidatstuderende eller imødekomme specifikke leverancekrav aftalt med case-organisationen. I andre tilfaelde blev analyseresultaterne sat i forhold til hinanden, og grupperinger af forskningsmaessig vaerdi blev L O G I S T I C S I N O F F S H O R E W I N D V I I I kombineret, for at analyserne kunne skabe bidrag, som ledte til udgivelse af i alt fem peer-reviewed publikationer. Bidragene fra forskningen var baseret på den manglende viden identificeret i den akademiske litteratur. I den forbindelse blev det første forskningsspørgsmål besvaret med en foreslået definition af logistik indenfor havvindmøller. Det første forskningsspørgsmål blev også delvist besvaret med en retningsgivende forståelse af logistikomkostninger set i relation til anlaegsudgifter, driftsudgifter og levelerede levetidsomkostninger (levelized cost of energy). Selvom dette reelt set var svaret på det andet forskningsspørgsmål, gav den forholdsmaessigt høje procentuelle andel af logistikomkostninger det svar, at logistik sandsynligvis -hverken indenfor det akademiske miljø eller industrien -er blevet håndteret med den grad af vigtighed, som logistikken rent faktisk fortjener. Svaret til det andet forskningsspørgsmål blev yderligere forstaerket af et bidrag omhandlende mulig partiskhed hos de institutioner, organisationer eller personer, der afgør forudsaetningerne for-og bestemmer indstillingerne af omkostningsmodellerne brugt indenfor havvindmølleindustrien. Et yderligere bidrag var, at omkostninger for havvindmøllelogistik ikke er godt repraesenteret eller defineret i statssponsorerede-og tvaerindustrielle omkostningsstudier. Svaret på det tredje forskningsspørgsmål var todelt. For det første blev det konkluderet, at betydelige karakteristika på det nyopståede kinesiske havvindmøllemarked adskilte sig fra de tilsvarende karakteristika på de mere etablerede europaeiske markeder. For det andet konkluderede en analyse af forsyningskaedens parathed, set ud fra en logistikmaessig vinkel, at forsyningskaeden ikke er klar til de forskellige statsligt projekterede udbredningsmål for naervaerende. Denne forskning har genereret et antal specifikke forslag til, hvordan forskere kan foretage yderligere studier fokuseret på havvindmøllelogistik.
doi:10.5278/vbn.phd.eng.00046 fatcat:euh5ho4e6bf5rm3o3qovxjhsji