Canadian independent power producer Northland Power and its project partners Yushan Energy and Mitsui have recently won the second Taiwanese offshore wind tender. With support of the Netherlands-based BLIX Consultancy BV, which has played a critical role within Northland’s bid team by carrying out a number of roles, such as key positions in planning, risk, interface, pricing of the major balance of plant components and project integration support. “But, it’s all about teamwork”, says Ben de Sonneville, senior consultant at BLIX.
Northland Power, Yushan Energy (Taiwan), and Mitsui Trading Company (Japan) have been awarded a concession contract to develop two Taiwanese offshore wind projects with a combined capacity of 744 MW (232 MW as an extension to the Hai Long 2 project, and 512 MW for the Hai Long 3 offshore wind farm). The Hai Long 2 offshore wind farm is expected to be connected to the grid in 2025 to execute a 20-year power contract under Taiwan’s Feed-in tariff (FIT) program for renewable energy. “It is the first time we have supported a client in Asia, and I am happy to say we have been very successful. This a very good example of the way we like to work”, De Sonneville explains. “A customer usually provides a relatively small own core team, and then we complement it. We can provide a project & risk manager, package managers responsible for foundations, cables and the high-voltage station, and a project integration and interface manager responsible for project optimisation and estimating the development costs, and providing input to the financial model. Complementing a customer’s team where and when help is needed is one of our core competences. We do not develop projects ourselves, but are all seasoned development and project managers from origin and try to address and resolve any issue that a client may encounter during the process, and provide human support if necessary.”
Large tender projects can be a relatively short sprint, as De Sonneville puts it. “Preparation time is often limited, and the amount of information may vary. In those cases, efficiency is of the utmost importance for obtaining a competitive bid. It is our strength that we are very experienced, and have standardised many internal procedures, which makes it possible to for example bring EPCI tenders onto the market very fast. In most cases bidding on a project requires the same steps, but each time you will have to think of specific ways to beat the competition. My advice would always be to be flexible, feel where the optimum is, act accordingly, and always assess the necessity of these actions, because you only have limited time to win a tender.” According to Ben de Sonneville it is often important to involve local partners if possible, but fact is that most experienced wind turbine suppliers and installation contractors are still European.
Accelerating the energy transition
BLIX Consultancy is renowned for its hands-on experience in renewable energy, and specialises worldwide in larger, more complex projects. “We looked at what we would like to contribute to the world, and concluded that we should make a difference by accelerating the energy transition in the broadest sense of the word. At the same time we realised building wind farms offshore and onshore simply is not enough anymore, we need integral solutions, which include solar energy and hydrogen. We want to achieve this for example by expanding our team with experts in various fields of expertise, including financial modelling and analysis. This allows us to create added value for our customers. We prefer to focus on quality rather than quantity when helping and advising our clients during the total lifecycle of their sustainable projects. In return, they help us make an impact on the energy transition.” BLIX is market leader in the Netherlands and Belgium in our niche of interim project management in wind energy. The SME works for many utility companies, investors and governmental bodies, and is involved worldwide in offshore and onshore wind and solar energy projects that are often worth up to billions of euros. BLIX is proud of their expanding international clients group. De Sonneville says “It is our strength to summarise very complex matters and a massive amount of information in a clear message. That requires knowledge, and expertise, and I am comfortable to say that we have both.”
The onshore and offshore sector has changed, support for offshore wind has grown. “Politicians weren’t too eager at first, because they thought wind energy was too expensive. That is not the case anymore, wind power is even becoming financially profitable, which also reduces the social costs of grant applications significantly. We have helped the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, to introduce the first concession tenders. The government itself has taken over the role of developers, searches for the best sites to build offshore wind farms, applies for permits, and investigates relevant environmental factors. We have been heavily involved with the latter, and have helped the Agency to contract parties to investigate water depth, soil characteristics, sand dune migration, and (extreme) wave heights. Developers can now bid on a site, with reduced uncertainties, and not having to worry about a grid connection or a construction permit. All necessary pieces of information are being served on a platter, after which the bidding competition can start. This formula has been proven very successful already in the Netherlands and Denmark, Germany will follow shortly, and France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom have shown interest. Taiwan has a hybrid tender model, which also allows for competition.”
Onshore wind & solar
Over the last two years BLIX has acted in an owners engineer role supporting three offshore tenders in the Netherlands, one in Germany, one in the UK, one in France and one in Taiwan. “We are strengthening our tender team to be able to expand our business in an international context to e.g. India and the United States. BLIX is also making sufficient contribution in onshore wind, with currently providing project, contract and construction management on seven onshore wind projects parallel, including a 1000 MW project in Romania. Furthermore, BLIX is currently managing the development of a 35 MW and 45 MW large solar scale plant. There is a growing demand for our expertise in offshore, but also onshore and solar energy projects. We endorse that development, and think that for example similar concession tender systems can be applied on land.” Ben de Sonneville personally believes that the future lies in combining forms of sustainable energy. Why not combining onshore wind turbines with a field of solar panels and connect both to the grid while also producing hydrogen? It is all coming together, which is exactly what makes my job as a senior consultant so exciting, and even fantastic!”, he adds, looking forward to all kinds of new projects like the floating offshore wind & solar projects, and large scale storage solutions becoming main stream.