Port of Bilbao records strong growth in wind components despite Covid-19

The Port of Bilbao has recorded strong growth in the throughput of wind energy components in the first half of 2020. Despite the coronavirus, which caused many manufacturers to temporarily shut down factories, volumes rose by 23%. The Spanish port is facilitating the industry further with the aim to become a major wind energy hub.

In the first half of the year, the Port of Bilbao handled 2,295 special consignments, reflecting an increase of 11% in the number of consignments and an increase of 23% in terms of the tonnage handled, which so far this year amounts to 96,711 tonnes.

The strong growth is remarkable as the European wind energy installations for 2020 are expected to be 30% down compared to industry forecasts, according to Wind Europe, which names Spain and Italy as the most heavily impacted countries.

Last year, 4,099 special parts were unloaded in the port with a total volume of 142,000 tonnes. In terms of maximum dimensions, the heaviest of those parts weighed 500 tonnes and the longest measured 70 metres in length. These figures include engines, rotors, blades and other equipment, some of which is manufactured on-site in the port.

The Port of Bilbao is home to companies like Haizea Wind, Lointek, Navacel and Vicinay Cadenas, which manufacture wind energy components on the port quays and ship them all over the world. The port is also used for export by major turbine manufacturers like Siemens Gamesa, Acciona and Sakana, which operate turbine, blade and nacelle factories in Spain.

Facilitating growth

To facilitate the manufacturers further, the Port of Bilbao promotes coordination between the different institutions and players involved in the transport of special parts from the factory to port. One of the measures approved is the construction of eleven lay-bys on the N-240 national road, where special transport vehicles will be able to pull over temporarily.

Likewise, Basque engineering companies Sener and Idom and the main manufacturers of structures and components, including Haizea Wind and Navacel, are actively engaged in the Seapower offshore wind project. This initiative promotes collaborative research and development of technologies and solutions for offshore wind structures, towers and auxiliary systems for the new generation of high-powered wind turbines of 10 MW and more.

The Bilbao Port Authority is also a member of the Wind Europe Ports Platform and is looking to identify new opportunities in the development of wind energy and to network with other leading ports and operators.

15-fold growth

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the offshore wind market will multiply 15-fold and is on course to attract a trillion dollars of investment by 2040.

Meanwhile, the European Commission has proposed to increase the budget of the Just Transition Fund to EUR 37.5 billion, compared to EUR 7.5 billion previously, as part of the EU Recovery Plan. In June, the Spanish government approved a Royal Decree-Law with a series of measures to promote an orderly and prompt energy transition towards a 100% renewable electricity system. The regulation removes barriers to the massive deployment of renewable sources, among other things.

“With this, and in the context of recovery after Covid-19, a stable framework has been established that will enable Spain to fulfil its potential in terms of employment generation and economic activity, linked to a clean, fair, reliable and economically competitive energy transition”, the Port of Bilbao states.

Author: Tobias Pieffers

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