(Article originally published in Nov/Dec 2022 edition.)
It’s a watershed moment for offshore wind in the U.S. as supply chain problems persist, costs spiral upward, and the federal and state governments vacillate on their commitments. But Dayney is up to the challenge. As a civil engineer and wind energy veteran, he has both the skills and credentials to guide Siemens Gamesa’s expansion into the growing U.S. market for offshore wind.
Let’s start with you, Steve. Tell us about yourself – your background and education.
Sure. I’m an engineer by training, a civil engineer with a degree from Purdue. I also have an M.B.A. from the University of Colorado that I got 20 years after I graduated from college. But I’ve been in the electrical energy industry my entire career. My first job out of Purdue was working for the utility in Colorado, laying out and designing transmission lines all over the state. I progressed through the ranks with a series of jobs with that utility and a number of successor companies – project management assignments, mergers and acquisitions, policy development – really all kinds of different roles within different companies.
I first got into the wind business in the mid-1990s, developing Colorado’s first utility scale wind farm. In the early 2000s, I took a job with a German wind turbine manufacturer to start up their operations with onshore wind in the U.S. And in 2018 I joined Siemens Gamesa to start up their offshore wind business.
So I’ve been in the wind business in one form or another for close to three decades, and it’s just been a terrific career and really a lot of fun and excitement. I’m particularly excited to be involved with the offshore wind industry at a time of incredible growth and demand and activity in this sector of the energy industry.
Where are you based?
My business card says Orlando, but I’m really based out of all three of our offshore offices. One is in Boulder, Colorado; another in Boston, where I probably spend the most time, and then Orlando, my home office, where we are today. We also have an operational presence in Virginia Beach, Virginia, to help manage the big Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project.
Wow, all over the U.S.! So give our readers a brief overview of Siemens Gamesa. Is it the world’s biggest offshore wind company?
Yes, we are. We’re the world’s biggest offshore wind turbine manufacturer. We’ve built and installed more than half of the world’s offshore turbines, excluding China, starting in 1991 when we became a pioneer in offshore wind by installing the world’s first offshore wind farm, Vindeby, off the coast of Denmark. We have over 19 GWs of offshore wind turbines that have been installed and more than 6,000 employees involved in our offshore wind business. We’ve got an orderbook of over $10 billion. Now, as the global market leader and with a growing imperative to meet climate challenges, we’re more determined than ever to be part of the solution, powering the future of the industry.
When did it begin operations in the U.S.?
Siemens and then Siemens Gamesa have tracked closely the development of the offshore wind market in the U.S. for the last 15 years or so, and we’ve installed more than 1,500 of our direct drive turbines across the Western Hemisphere. So it’s a very large part of our business and a growing part of Siemens Gamesa’s overall business.
But as you well know, the challenges of getting a utility-scale, offshore wind project built in the U.S. have been significant and have taken literally decades to achieve. Siemens was involved in some of the early project development activities and actually provided proposals to a couple of different companies to build projects, which never came to fruition. And some of those projects wound up casting a very long shadow over this industry, which we only now are stepping out from.
So we’ve been involved in the U.S. market for a while, but it’s only been in the last four years or so that we’ve really dedicated a significant amount of resources, both here and in Europe, to the U.S. offshore market.
What is Senvion, and what is its relationship to Siemens Gamesa?
Senvion was a German wind turbine manufacturer that filed for insolvency in 2018. Coming out of that insolvency proceeding, Siemens Gamesa acquired a significant portion of Senvion’s intellectual property, as well as some assets and service contracts in select countries. In North America, we have negotiated new service contracts for some portion of the sites that have Senvion turbines.
A year ago in this edition we featured Josh Bennett of Dominion Energy, your partner in Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind, the biggest project in the U.S. today at 2.6 GWs. Did you ever think you’d be in charge of building one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms?
No, I never did. I never did, in my wildest imagination, think I could have some responsibility for or be involved with the largest offshore wind project in the U.S. It’s a huge project in so many different dimensions, so we’re very pleased to be involved.
How big are the turbines?
It depends on how you define “big.” Our largest turbine, the SG 14-236, has an electrical output up to 14.7 MWs, and the blades are 115 meters long.
Okay. As a maritime publication, we’re particularly interested in the nautical aspects of offshore wind. What has been the impact of the Jones Act on your operations and what U.S.-based vessel companies are involved?
I’ll start off by saying that all our operations will be in compliance with the requirements of the Jones Act. It’s the law of the land. The impact is that there’s been one announcement after another to build Jones Act-compliant vessels to serve the growing offshore wind industry. Whether it’s Dominion Energy’s Charybdis, the U.S’s first Jones Act-compliant offshore wind turbine installation vessel, currently being constructed by Keppel AmFELS at its Brownsville, Texas shipyard, that we use or some other, we intend to charter a service operation vessel for the Coastal Virginia project. Our customer Ørsted has announced multiple vessel builds here in the U.S. to support its portfolio of offshore wind projects, and other companies have also announced new vessel builds to serve the growing U.S. market.
Excellent. Are there other offshore wind projects in the pipeline for Siemens?
Besides the Dominion project, we’re also supplying turbines to Ørsted’s Northeast program of offshore wind projects, three of them, including South Fork, which is the first that will be built, followed by Revolution Wind and Sunrise Wind.
What do you see as the future of offshore wind in the U.S.? And what are some of the major challenges to get there?
The future for offshore wind is both exciting and challenging. We’re building an entirely new industry in this country with massive investments in infrastructure, factories, vessels and people. Goals for development of offshore wind are being set by state demand for offshore wind energy and by the federal government’s support in terms of leasing portions of the Outer Continental Shelf to developers for offshore wind development.
It’s really a very exciting time. We’re going from nothing to a very large industry in less than a decade. The challenges are manifold – getting the port infrastructure developed to handle these incredibly large and heavy components, getting vessels built that are compliant with the Jones Act to allow us to both install and maintain these turbines, getting enough people involved in the…