Growing role for logistics services in the global wind energy market, says new research

Shipping, logistics and supply chain management (SCM) efforts play an important role in every wind energy project. In fact, a significant part of the overall life-cycle costs for large onshore or offshore wind farms can be attributed to these related activities. That is the basis for PhD Fellow, Thomas Poulsen’s research project, sponsored by Aalborg University Copenhagen and the Danish Maritime Foundation. Through a global case study approach, the project, launched in February 2013, will concentrate on visualizing end-to-end wind farm levelized cost of energy (LCoE) from a shipping, logistics and SCM perspective and hopefully bring more focus to this often overlooked matter.

On October 10, 2014, as part of the first annual Danish Maritme Days event, Poulsen will put on a conference discussing this very topic – offshore wind and logistics. He commented, “Our objective with the conference is to raise awareness about shipping, logistics, and supply chain management issues in the wind energy debate about cost reductions and innovation. These matters are often overlooked.”

The conference will include panels comprised of professionals from different areas of the wind energy sector, addressing topics such as logistics bottlenecks and the hurdles and challenges that we’ve faced, the radical innovation that is happening today in the industry, and then looking to the future and the emerging Chinese market in offshore wind energy.

The market for shipping and logistics services in the sector is still very fragmented with energy utility providers, EPC companies, manufacturers, and shipping as well as LSPs all playing an active role. A large opportunity exists for LSPs and shipping companies to take over the entire area including industrializing, professionalizing, and globalizing the market including taking advantage of the rapidly emerging Chinese offshore wind market

“So far, some 95% of all global offshore wind farm installations have been erected in European waters around the North Sea with UK, Germany, and Denmark representing the largest markets. However, with the implementation of national feed-in tariffs by the Central Government in Beijing, the Chinese offshore wind dragon is awakening very quickly,” explained Poulsen. “In the 12th Five Year Plan of China currently in effect, some 30 gigaWatt offshore wind capacity must be installed by 2020 which based on current technology corresponds to some 5,000 offshore wind turbines compared to the modest number of some 100+ offshore wind turbines installed in China up to the end of 2013.”

China has a proven track record, seen in their efforts with onshore wind, and has a clear ability to meet their targets. They’ve created a revolution around wind power and as we now move towards more offshore wind, it is important to incorporate a global sharing of best practices. Sharing such knowledge during a surge in offshore wind developments presents a great opportunity for LSPs to increase their stake in this logistics intensive sector. In fact, one of Poulsen’s goals with this project is to increase the management knowledge exchange between regions. This conference is one way the industry can start to bridge the knowledge transfer gap.

The PhD project will run until early 2017 and will include more of this type of event for the niche segment of the offshore sector. For more information and the latest news about the research, visit