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Enormous Turbines Push Offshore Wind to New Heights

Isabelle Branco-Lo
Feb 09, 2021

Guidehouse Insights windmill

The offshore wind market is growing rapidly due to declining costs, increasing load factors, high reliability, and unique value propositions as an abundant clean energy solution for many coastal load centers. Despite the proven success of offshore wind technology, design improvements such as larger rotors and novel foundation designs are the focus of R&D. Since 2005, some turbine designs have grown by a factor of six

Is the Sky the Limit?

General Electric (GE) is piloting a new series of giant offshore wind turbines off the coast of the Netherlands, with the potential to replace coal and natural gas power plants for entire cities. Each GE Haliade-X turbine has a generating capacity of 13 MW. In December 2020, GE secured a contract to deliver an upscaled version of this giant wind turbine that can deliver 14 MW of power and will be located at the Dogger Bank C offshore wind farm in the UK. GE’s 13 MW and 14 MW turbines are more than 800 feet tall. 

In May 2020, Siemens Gamesa announced it would begin developing 15 MW turbines, with a prototype ready by the end of 2021. The turbines have already been ordered for the Dominion Energy Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project in the US and the Hai Long 2 project in Taiwan

Legislation Might Be a Barrier

Although larger turbine sizes might seem like an attractive option for a delayed US offshore wind market, legislation called the Jones Act may limit developers. The Jones Act requires that goods passing between US ports must use ships that are built, owned, and operated by organizations in the US. Dominion Energy recently announced that it will construct the first Jones Act–compliant offshore wind turbine installation vessel by 2023, but it’s unclear if competitors will do the same.

Offshore Wind Market Parallels Turbine Growth

The recent Guidehouse Insights’ report, Offshore Wind Power Market Resiliency, shows that the global offshore wind market is expected to install 156 GW between 2020 and 2030 at a compound annual growth rate of 12.4%. The market remains largely unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of longer project timelines compared with those of solar and onshore wind. Not only will rapidly declining costs continue to push the market forward, but limitless space for massive turbine development is expected to continue to draw interest.