Floating wind innovations OWSplus Floating Offshore Wind Solutions – how Rostock sets sail

24.04.2023 6 Reading Time

The North and Baltic Seas, the seas off the coast of Germany, are quite shallow, which is why it is not worthwhile building floating wind turbines here. Anchoring the wind turbines directly to the seabed is less complex and even cheaper. The federal republic, on the other hand, has clearly recognised the potential of floating offshore technology and has decided to be at the forefront.

Although it is limited in what it can do in terms of equipment – in September 2020, ENBW and wind power manufacturer Aerodyn launched a 1:10 scale prototype called “Nezzy2” in the water within sight of the harbour – it wants to make a big difference through research initiatives. To this end, the alliance “OWSplus – Floating Offshore Wind Solutions” consisting of 13 partners was launched in August 2019. 

The Federal Ministry of Research wants to provide impetus

OWSplus stands for a core of growth within the framework of the “Innovation & Structural Change” programme launched by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research. It is intended to provide incentives for coastal areas, rural areas and old industrial areas, including those in eastern Germany in particular, in order to connect with the strong economic regions. “OWSplus – Floating Offshore Wind Solutions" represents an ideally typical alliance of companies, universities, research institutions and other stakeholders that the Federal Ministry for Research wants to promote in order to “use and further develop regionally existing innovation potential”.1

Needs more than a gentle breeze

The alliance has big plans. The development and marketing of a remarkable range of innovative solutions for floating offshore wind farms has been prioritised. The focus is on three main areas: floating substructures, floating multi-purpose platforms, and the installation and operation of floating wind farms. Their competitiveness is to manifest itself in attributes such as durability, reliability, dependabilty, scalability, modularity and cost-effectiveness. Ideally by 2026. That is when market capture is planned for and further market penetration is planned by 2030. A good amount of entrepreneurial momentum can't hurt. 

Three joint projects that are interconnected

  • Joint project 1 should provide all aspects for the end product “floating substructure” as prototypes – from defined logistics processes to assembled production facilities with maximum standardised assemblies and components.
  • Joint Project 2 is concerned with the development of floating multi-purpose platforms characterised by a secure, common energy management system that ensures both the storage of energy and its transmission up to the coastal grid connection. 
  • Joint project 3 provides the digital construction plan for floating wind farms. A predefined installation sequence and an autonomous underwater monitoring system ensure maximum result reliability. This should enable the international planning and evaluation of future projects.  

Creating synergies from existing competencies

If you look at the alliance partners, it quickly becomes clear why Rostock in particular is a suitable hub for dazzling innovations. EEW Special Pipe Constructions GmbH, for example, is a pioneer in the production of monopiles, the foundation piles of offshore wind turbines, and according to its own statement can manufacture “thick-walled, longitudinally welded pipes with a diameter of up to 12 metres, a length of up to 120 metres and a unit weight of up to 2,500 tonnes”.

The GICON Group provides interdisciplinary engineering services from a single source, while the Krebs group of companies is dedicated to corrosion protection, industrial services, heavy-duty logistics and offshore support. And these are just three of the 16 partners. In the end, the art will be to interlink the different competencies as efficiently and effectively as possible.

WEtix delivers positive assessment for offshore wind power in Germany

It is not yet possible to assess whether the Rostock Alliance will achieve its objectives within the specified framework. In any case, the industry’s sentiment with regard to the development of offshore wind energy in Germany has clearly turned positive. According to the spring 2022 WindEnergy trend:index (WEtix) – where almost 900 industry experts along the entire value chain gave their assessment of the developments in the global onshore and offshore wind industry – Germany recorded a greater increase in sentiment compared to other countries.  

Together with the numerous legislative initiatives of the German Federal Government, such as the amended Renewable Energies Act (EEG), the German Onshore Wind Energy Act and the German Offshore Wind Energy Act, the sector should benefit from a lot of fresh air.