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每日跟讀#571: An Opportunity Rises Offshore

成本降技術升 離岸風電打入主流

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English
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每日跟讀#571: An Opportunity Rises Offshore

When engineers faced resistance from residents in Denmark over plans to build wind turbines on the Nordic country’s flat farmland, they found a better locale: the sea. The offshore wind farm, the world’s first, had just 11 turbines and could power about 3,000 homes.

That project now looks like a minnow compared with the whales that sprawl for miles across the seas of Northern Europe.

當工程師想在丹麥平坦農地設置風力發電機卻遭遇居民反對時,他們發現了一個更好的地方─大海。這座世上第一個離岸風力發電場僅有11座風力發電機,約可為3000個家庭提供電力。

相較目前在歐洲北部海上綿延好幾英里的巨大電場,上述計畫規模小得可憐。

Off this venerable British port city, a Danish company, DONG Energy, is installing 32 turbines that stretch 600 feet high. Each turbine produces more power than that first facility.

It is precisely the size, both of the projects and the profits they can bring, that has grabbed the attention of banks, money managers, private equity funds and wealthy individuals like the owner of the Danish toymaker Lego and the investment bank Goldman Sachs. As the technology has improved and demand for renewable energy has risen, costs have fallen.

丹麥公司丹能風力正在這個古老英國港口城市(編按:利物浦)的外海,安裝32座高達600英尺的風力發電機。每座的發電量都比前述發電場的總發電量還大。

而正是這個計畫可觀的規模與獲利能力引起了金融機構、基金經理人和私募股權基金的關注,諸如投資銀行高盛及丹麥玩具製造商樂高的老闆等富豪。隨著技術改善與再生能源需求增加,成本亦已降低。

And offshore wind, once a fringe investment, with limited scope and reliant on government subsidies, is moving into the mainstream. Europe, too, looks all the more attractive, as the United States under President Donald Trump rethinks its stance on renewables.

“If you had polled infrastructure investors five years ago, only a few would have been looking at offshore wind,” said Suzanne Buchta, the Bank of America Merrill Lynch global co-head of green bonds.

離岸風力發電曾經是範圍有限且仰賴政府補貼的邊緣投資項目,目前卻正打入主流。而在美國總統川普重新思考再生能源立場之際,歐洲看來也格外吸引人。

美銀美林綠色債券全球共同主管蘇珊娜.布赫塔說:「如果你在5年前調查基礎設施項目投資人的意見,會考慮離岸風力發電的寥寥無幾」,他們現在則「稍微多了些信心」。

Now, she said, they “are a little more comfortable.”

Offshore wind has several advantages over land-based renewable energy, whether wind or solar. Turbines can be deployed at sea with fewer complaints than on land, where they are often condemned as eyesores.

But the technology had been expensive and heavily dependent on government subsidies, leaving investors wary. That is now changing.

Turbines today are bigger, produce much more electricity and are deployed on much larger sites than in the past. The result is more clean power and extra revenue.

離岸風力發電與陸上再生能源相比享有數項優勢,無論是陸上風能還是陸上太陽能。風力發電機在海上部署引起的抱怨少於陸地,它們在陸地上常被指為有礙觀瞻。

離岸風力發電技術成本一直很高且高度仰賴政府補助,讓投資人望而卻步,但情況正在改變。

現今的風力發電機機體更大,發電量更多,並且部署在遠比過去為大的地方,結果則是獲得更乾淨的電力與更多的收入。

The number of major players has also expanded, creating more competition. A joint venture of Vestas, the Danish turbine maker, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan, is now competing with Siemens, which had long dominated the market for building offshore turbines. Others, like the American giant General Electric and Chinese manufacturers, are also jumping into the game.

“For us competition is great,” said Benj Sykes, Britain country manager for DONG. “It drives innovation. It drives performance. It also drives cost.”

Companies are developing specialized vessels and improving installation techniques (taking a cue from the oil industry), cutting construction timetables. DONG and its competitors are learning to better cope with the bad weather, corrosive saltwater and scouring currents that increase costs.

主要玩家數量也增加了,使得競爭更激烈。一家丹麥風力發電機製造商Vestas與日本三菱重工合資的公司,目前正跟長期主宰離岸風力發電機興建市場的西門子競爭,而美國巨擘奇異與中國製造商等其他玩家也投入這場競賽。

丹能風力英國區經理班.塞克斯說:「我們認為有競爭很好,它推動創新和性能,也推動成本(下降)。」

各公司正發展專用船隻且提升安裝技術(受石油工業影響),精簡施工程序。丹能風力及其競爭對手也正學習如何更好地應付惡劣天氣,腐蝕性海水以及會讓成本增加的水流沖刷情形。

Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/310478/web/

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