A wide range of stakeholders from various industry and service sectors has developed as a result of increasing national and international exploitation of wind energy. The value chain extends from planning and financing of turbines to production of wind turbines and large components, to transport and erection, to wind farm operation and maintenance. The offshore wind industry has developed as a specific arm of the wind industry.
1. Industrial Production and Manufacturing
Wind turbine manufacturers
Internationally operational companies are involved in manufacturing of wind turbines. Alongside companies that service both the onshore and offshore markets, wind turbine manufacturers also include a small number of producers focussing solely on the offshore market. In addition, some turbine manufacturers are part of industrial groups offering conventional energy production plans as well as onshore and offshore wind energy turbines.
Suppliers and component manufacturers
Suppliers and component manufacturers
The supplier industry is a central part of the offshore value chain. Suppliers include, in particular, companies from industry sectors such as steelwork and mechanical and electrical engineering. Important supplier companies within the wind energy sector include manufacturers of large components such as transmission units, foundation structures and towers as well as parts and components for powertrains, rotor blades and cables.
2. Project planning and development
Project planning and development companies
Planning and implementation of offshore wind farms are often managed by specialised companies. The project developer’s tasks include selection of a location, land use planning and categorization, analysis of wind climatic conditions at the planned location, selection of plant configurations and implementation of approval procedures. Project developers are also responsible for wind farm construction and for handover to the operator/investor. Project developers often involve other specialised service providers in on- and offshore projects who are responsible for the accompanying ecological investigations, for example.
3. Financing and Insurance
Banks and financial institutions
Due to the high investment costs associated with wind farms, projects are generally implemented by project consortia and are credit-financed by private or public banks. Groups of investors include large corporations, banking partnerships and municipal utilities, amongst others. Smaller companies and private investors may also participate in wind energy projects, by purchasing bonds for the purpose of capital generation, for example.
Ambitious expansion targets for wind energy in various countries are leading to increased numbers of wind farms and to stronger demand for insurance services as a result. Risk management presents a major challenge on account of the large sums invested especially in offshore wind turbines. There are a range of risks associated with such projects, from ground investigation to transport, to making an wind farm operational.
4. Construction and maintenance
Transport and logistics companies
The transport and logistics sector has a central function because of the dimensions of wind turbines and large components. Special ships such as installation and transport vessels are required for the construction of offshore wind farms. Within the logistics sector, shipyards have an important role to play.
Turbine erection and cable laying are managed by specialised construction companies. They use specialist machinery e.g. to erect the foundations or specialist cranes required for the installation of rotor blades, for example. Several companies are often involved in projects as consortia.
Wind service and maintenance companies
Wind farm operators expect undisturbed wind farm operation. In this respect, service and maintenance of turbines plays an important role in operational management. Maintenance is managed by the turbine manufacturer or by external service providers. Foundation structures and rotor blades are relatively high-maintenance especially in offshore wind energy. Service and maintenance companies conduct special measures for inspection.
5. Testing and certification
There are a range of national and international requirements to be observed when constructing wind farms. Independent testing and certification bodies offer their services in order to ensure high quality in implementing a wind farm project.
6. Wind farm operation
The range of wind farm operators is very diverse and ranges from individual operators to cooperatives to engineering companies, individual municipal utilities, large electricity suppliers or municipal utility groups.