Ramco Energy PLC moves focus offshore

Ramco Energy PLC said it believed the opportunities offered by offshore wind energy were truly enormous. The company will also rename itself as SeaEnergy.

Ramco’s subsidiary SeaEnergy Renewables Ltd (SERL) has secured a net 456 MegaWatts of offshore wind farms acreage alongside large utility partners. To date SERL has secured a 25 percent interest in two joint ventures to develop offshore wind farms with a total capacity of over 1800 MW with partners Scottish & Southern Energy PLC unit Airtricity and RWE AG unit npower. Together with EDP Renewables it has also made applications for sites to be awarded through the UK Offshore Round 3 process.

SERL conceived, developed and delivered the world’s first deep water wind farm development – the Beatrice offshore wind farm with 10 MW. The project involved the installation of the two largest wind turbines ever deployed offshore, at water depths of 45 metres.

This, combined with the Ramco team’s expertise in delivering deep water offshore developments in the oil and gas industry, puts SeaEnergy in an unrivalled position at the vanguard of the emerging offshore renewables industry, Ramco said.

Stephen Remp said: "The offshore wind opportunity is truly enormous, with over £130bn pounds of investment envisaged over the next 11 years through the Scottish and UK offshore rounds."

Ramco Energy said cleantech and green-focused investment funds were reluctant to invest in the group while it retained its focus on oil and gas.

Scottish Energy Minister Jim Mather said: "Today’s announcement is further evidence of the enormous potential of offshore wind in Scottish waters, which can play a very significant role in a renewables-led economic recovery.

"In becoming the only quoted pure play offshore wind company on the London markets, Seaenergy plc reinforces the already powerful signal that Scotland is the place to be for all forms of offshore renewables."

An industry report last week predicted there could be more than 12,000 jobs in Scottish marine renewables by 2020.

Global offshore wind farm capacity will grow at a compound annual rate of 32 per cent in the coming decade, according to a new report by energy consulting firm ODS-Petrodata.

The International Offshore Wind Market to 2020 report predicts that by the end of 2020 global offshore wind farm capacity will have soared to 55 gigawatts, or enough to power almost 37 million European homes. Current installed capacity is under two gigawatts.

Based on an analysis of more than 700 projects and prospects in the company’s database, ODS-Petrodata forecasts USD 61.4 billion of capital expenditure in the sector between now and 2014. For 2016 to 2020, total capital expenditure could be double that.

"Although the credit crisis and other constraints have tempered the market, there is clearly a huge business opportunity here," says David Gault, Renewables Manager at ODS-Petrodata. "These are big industrial projects, and it will take lots of equipment, manpower and innovation to get them built. Now is a great time for companies in other sectors, such as offshore oil and gas, to assess whether they can grab a piece of the action."

Bottlenecks in the supply chain are already being relieved by new entrants. Several emerging European manufacturers of offshore-rated turbines will challenge the dominance of Siemens and Vestas in the next few years, and will later be joined by a batch of Asian manufacturers, including South Korean conglomerates such as Hyundai and at least 10 Chinese firms.

ODS-Petrodata’s research on turbine installation vessels indicates that the current shortage of these units could ease quite quickly, if all the vessels currently under construction are delivered on schedule and those in the design phase are built as planned. This will ultimately depend on access to finance, although some potential owners are major civil construction firms with substantial internal resources.

The UK currently leads the way for both installed capacity and projects under construction, but it may experience a lull in activity in 2013 and 2014. Germany will more than take up the slack, and will go on to become the industry’s power house from 2014 onwards. China and the USA will also be very significant players in the longer term.

There is a strong trend towards projects being built in deeper water further from shore, and this should create opportunities for innovative installation techniques, new vessel designs, foundations that can be used in deep water, cables that carry power over long distances, and new ways of tackling operations and maintenance challenges.