In the complex task of installing cables in difficult conditions, Detlev Waimann, president of projects business at nkt cables, tells World Wind Technology how he and his team face the challenges involved in providing appropriate solutions to their offshore customers.
Which current project is the most important for nkt cables?
Detlev Waimann: For nkt cables, every customer and every project is considered of high importance. Our biggest current project is undoubtedly Gemini Offshore Wind Farm, a project in the North Sea, where we are currently supplying 200km of 220kV submarine cables to connect our customer Van Oord to the grid.
What are the most important challenges you are facing in these projects?
In the projects business, you have to contend with unpredictable environmental conditions, as well as unavailability of vessels and special equipment. On the product side, there are also challenges related to the huge volumes of cables and the respective difficulties in handling the logistics flow to the installation windows. We have to be constantly prepared for the unexpected, and be flexible and experienced enough to run the whole process - from planning, production and installation to final commissioning - all within the scheduled project window.
Which services are part of nkt cables' product and service portfolio?
We are specialised in designing comprehensive and flexible system package solutions to serve the needs of our customers. We provide services ranging from product supply to full turnkey solutions. These include engineering, product development and management, production of complete cable systems and their accessories, and can extend to cable and electrical installation. Moreover, we provide advanced monitoring technology, which enables full and continuous control and transparency of thermal, electrical and mechanical cable systems data to secure maximum service availability throughout the system lifetime.
What are the key success factors of nkt cables?
The most important success factor is the skilled teams we have in Cologne and all of our highly specialised sites. We also create system solutions in close cooperation with our customers. This means we actively support them in their efforts to find the most economical, environmentally friendly and durable solutions. At the same time, customers can be sure they will receive products of the highest quality out of one of the most modern and efficient cable factories in the world: f2c (flow to customer) in Cologne and our offshore logistic centre in Rotterdam.
How do you manage risk and complexity?
Highly skilled, 100% engaged and motivated teams of experts in risk management and engineering are essential, as well as professionalism and substantial experience in all areas.
How important is the Energiewende (the transition to more renewable energy) for your business?
The trend to generate more energy from renewable resources and offshore prompted us to build our new f2c factory. The Energiewende also reassured us that we had made the right decision; it is one of the main drivers of the offshore industry, because other countries also decided to follow that example.
How will the cable business develop in the coming years?
As ever more wind parks are being built, the volume of cables required to connect the turbines within them and high-voltage cables for grid connection will further increase as farms expand. At the same time, the distance to shore is also getting further. That's why nkt cables invested in offshore cable production. Flexibility in continuously adapting technology and logistics solutions is a prerequisite for further improvements.
Looking into cable systems solutions, which include land connections, will be a future trend that nkt cables is prepared for. In addition, the grid on the mainland has to be expanded to transport energy from north to south - nkt cables delivers these systems and will focus on developing and delivering high and extra high-voltage land-cable systems.
However, there are also some downsides in the market that all offshore cable manufacturers and offshore companies in general have to deal with. Many projects are delayed because of bad weather, insecure financing or unforeseeable obstacles due to the fact that the market is still relatively new. This brings some degree of uncertainty, which we would like to see lower over time.
How will nkt cables develop in the coming years?
Experts assume the market for energy infrastructure will develop favourably, especially for offshore wind; positive growth rates are forecast up to 2020. The UK in particular, along with some other European countries, is setting ambitious objectives.
With our experience, professionalism and customer orientation, we will significantly contribute to future market growth. We are presently driving forward demanding projects and have other ambitious plans in the pipeline.
What motivates you most?
A delighted customer is what satisfies us most. For this we need a good team spirit, which we definitely have, and it also makes going to work even more enjoyable!