CSBC Corp, Taiwan (台灣國際造船) yesterday confirmed that cracks have appeared in the welding joints of transition pieces it supplied to Orsted Taiwan Ltd’s (沃旭能源) offshore wind farm projects, but dismissed speculation that it could lead to Orsted switching to foreign suppliers.
“This is a repairable problem and we are working with China Steel Corp [CSC, 中鋼] on updating our welding process specifications so we can deliver a product that is satisfactory to Orsted,” CSBC spokesman Mike Chou (周志明) told the Taipei Times by telephone.
Chou’s remarks came after a report yesterday by the Chinese-
language Commercial Times, which, citing an anonymous source at CSBC, said cracks have appeared in the welding of Taiwan-made wind turbine components for Orsted’s Greater Changhua 1 & 2a Offshore Wind Farms.
The report said multiple sources confirmed that transition pieces made by CSBC, which were delivered in June, started developing cracks in the welding joints three to four months after delivery.
The issue has already caused “a nine-month delay” and could lead to Orsted “cutting its order and switching to South Korea,” it said.
Chou said that most of the story was “pure speculation.”
The cracked welding material would be removed and the transition piece would be rewelded according to new specifications, he said.
“We will expand the area around the joint that we heat before welding and cover it with fiberglass insulation after welding to minimize rapid temperature change. This should help reduce residual stress,” Chou said.
Residual stress, which is the internal stress that remains inside an object after external loading forces are removed, is a cause of premature structural failure.
Orsted has contracted CSC to execute the underwater construction of 56 turbine platforms for the wind farms. CSC then contracted the welding of 22 of 56 transition pieces to CSBC. The transition piece is part of the foundation of the unit and connects the monopile to the tower.
CSBC is waiting for CSC and Orsted to sign off on the new welding process specifications before repairing the pieces, Chou said.
CSC executive vice president and spokesman Hwang Chien-chih (黃建智) described the faults as “a part of the learning process” for Taiwanese companies making wind farm components for the first time.
“These pieces are the size of a three-story building,” Hwang said. “We are working with Orsted intensively. Our experts agree with their experts about [the need to reduce residual stress].”
Orsted said it is “going all out” to support suppliers with “extra assistance to ensure the necessary quality” as new suppliers in Taiwan face “challenges in their learning curves.”
“However, our top priority remains to deliver the Greater Changhua 1 & 2a offshore wind project safely, on time and on quality. If the local suppliers are still struggling to meet the requirements and delivery schedule, Orsted will have to take necessary actions to ensure the project time line will not be jeopardized,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.
Under the government’s offshore wind farm localization policy, developers are required to use certain made-in-Taiwan components, even if imported components might have a price and quality advantage.
Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Tseng Wen-sheng (曾文生) said the faulty components are an “issue of commercial contract obligations” and are separate from the government’s localization policy.
“The hope is as companies meet with technical challenges [in localizing offshore wind] they will overcome them,” Tseng said.
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