Study of logistics as a competitive factor in the offshore wind energy

Project duration
12.2008 - 06.2010
Project funding
Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU)

The aim of the project sponsored by Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) is to investigate the question, how modern logistics concepts and models of cost reduction could be realized. In this context, the logistics concepts from other industry branches are analyzed and tested for transferability to the wind energy branch. The impact of cost reduction potentials on the profitability of the planned offshore wind parks and the current production costs are evaluated.

Quelle: LSA

This study is based on the efforts of the German wind power industry to install offshore wind parks far from the coast. Because of the higher technical, logistical and financial efforts which result from the increasing distance to the coast, the individual units have to become bigger in regard to their economic viability. Also, the entire manufacturing process and installation of offshore wind turbines have to be optimized. This requires the development of new transport networks over long distances. But the amount of logistics costs is often unclear. The part of logistics costs of an offshore wind energy plant is estimated at 15 to 20 percent. The wind energy industry is still far away from a logistics cost transparency as it is usual in other industries. Not only the actual transportation costs are considered, but also the resource-intensive handling and storage processes because of the significant dimensions of the components are relevant.

Novel logistical problems on the control of supply chains arise from specific parameters, such as short-term schedule changes by meteorological influences as well as bottlenecks considering scarce and cost-intensive resources. The weather determines the procedures for the offshore construction: It is currently estimated that only about 120 days per year could be used for the installation of offshore facilities. So it is important to be able to use existing time windows optimally. If a necessary resource is missing at the crucial moment, this can lead to a longer delay of entire processes. The dimensions of capable storage areas which are available for the heavy duty in the harbor are also a central theme: the weather breaks the movement of equipment at sea, but the components of the upstream stages of the supply chain will still be delivered on schedule. Thus, bottlenecks are inevitable in the availability of storage areas.

In this project, detailed studies concerning the location concepts will be carried out. In two example scenarios, the manufacturer’s and supplier’s concepts as well as the manufacturing network system are simulated and compared.