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Wind Topic Analysis

New competitors entering underwater pipe manufacturing market

February 14, 2022 Wind InfoLink

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Small changes to underwater foundations in IPR policy 

On December 6, 2021, the Industrial Development Bureau finalized the “Directions of Industrial Relevance Program for Offshore Wind Zonal Development,” in which guidelines for underwater foundations see not much of change, as compared to the draft published on July 29. The required number and key development items remain the same. Monopile and jacket pile foundations shall have at least 60% of reported capacity meeting local content requirements. Whereas for floating foundations, the IRP policy provides bonuses for any reported capacity fulfilling localization, in order to encourage the development of floating foundation technology.

There are now two grading measure for bonus items, one for monopile and jacket foundations, and the other for floating foundations. Monopile and jacket foundations can have four bonus points, whilst floating foundations five. “Site board steel frame” is removed, given limited local production capacity in Taiwan. 

Water depth for zonal development 

Wind farms in Taiwan mostly employ monopile and jacket foundations. Monopile foundations have simpler structure and lower production costs, with 10-30m of optimal water depth. Jacket foundations are better suited in water areas 30-50m in depth. Most wind farm candidates for the third phase are located at sites with more than 30m of water depth. Some of the most sough-after sites, such as No. 11, No.16, and No.17, sit in waters with 20-48m of depth. There are even projects planes for deep water areas. 

Given water depth limits for monopile foundations, InfoLink believes developers will opt for jacket foundations or even advance for floating foundations in the zonal development phase.

Underwater foundation competitions and local industry chain

underwater foundation list

Century Iron & Steel Industrial Co. Ltd. (CT) has successfully joined offshore wind construction, with experiences of jacket foundations and pin piles. The company has received orders for 31 underwater foundations and 124 pin piles from Taipower’s Phase II, of which production is expected to commence by the third quarter this year. Lately, CT also vied for Hailong 2A’s underwater foundation orders. Well-experienced in making all items for underwater foundations, CT currently holds the largest production capacity in Taiwan. 

Having previously seen order volumes drop amid the Covid-19 pandemic,  SDMS has recently overcome bottlenecks, completing the construction of six underwater foundations for Greater Changhua 1 and 2a. SDMS is expected to produce 24 underwater foundations per year. However, subject to inferior geographical conditions of the Sing Da Harbor, SDMS must deal with the sludge before sending out its foundations.

As the contractor of pin pile constructions in two wind farms, Changfang & Xidao (CFXD) and Zhongneng, CTCI has matured welding technology and simultaneously deploys several welding cross arms, winning wide acknowledgment for both efficiency and quality.

Ming Rong Yuan had experience in making pin piles for jacket foundations and is in charge of producing four pin piles for Taipower phase-1. A manufacturing plant for underwater foundations has been under construction and is expected to come into operation by the second quarter this year. By far, the company has yet to receive orders for underwater foundations, but hopes to start making primary pipes in the zonal development. 

In 2021, CSBC signed an MoU with Floatation Energy for collaboration of offshore wind floating wind, jointly promoting the localization of floating wind turbine technology, for which CSBC must have fair production capacity, for the structure of floating foundations is quite similar to that of vessels. If successfully develops, CSBC is likely to become one of the major local supplier for floating foundations during zonal development.

underwater foundation list

Conclusion

For now, CT and SDMS are the biggest suppliers for underwater foundations in Taiwan. Considering 1.5 GW of annual installation target during zonal development, InfoLink believes more local manufacturers will join the supply chain of underwater foundations, whilst those have made components of foundations before may start producing primary pipes.

The biggest hindrance to make underwater foundations in Taiwan lies in small manufacturing plant, limited storage area, staff shortage in steel factories, and dependence on imported welding professionals. Therefore, besides upgrading welding technology, human resource cultivation and space management are also the key to the localization of underwater foundation manufacturing.

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