An interview with… Kate Johannesen

Kate Johannesen  

Role – Head of Project and Technology Development
Time in the energy industry – 11 years
Time with Xodus – 3 years

What is your technical expertise and how did you become a specialist?

My specialism is early stage project development for offshore renewables, taking a project right from inception and through the leasing and consenting milestones. After studying Civil Engineering at Imperial College London, I completed an EngD at University College London in collaboration with HR Wallingford, investigating seabed scour around offshore wind monopile foundations. Keen to broaden my offshore and renewables specialisms I went on to conduct post-doctoral research on wave and tidal energy at Strathclyde University before transitioning into consultancy where I have worked across the offshore wind, wave and tidal sectors.

I recently took on leadership of the project and technology development team within the Renewables Division at Xodus; a team of around 10 engineers that were fundamental to delivery of extensive support to a range of developers over the last two years with respect to the ScotWind leasing round. I am looking forward to continuing to grow our exciting portfolio of projects including supporting ScotWind projects post option-agreement award, floating wind in the Celtic Sea, the first tranche of commercial projects in Ireland, floating opportunities in France, and fixed and floating wind in Japan and Vietnam.

Why is the ScotWind leasing round exciting for your field of work?

The scale of opportunity offered by the ScotWind round is unprecedented and incorporates areas of seabed requiring floating technologies as well as fixed foundations which will help to drive innovation for the sector, ultimately opening up new markets where developments were not previously profitable (e.g. deeper water sites globally). The seabed on offer is wide ranging in its physical characteristics, with each plan option having unique challenges to address with respect to grid connection, consenting and permitting, technology design and installation due to complex ground conditions, metocean conditions, deeper water and greater distance to ports.

In particular, for myself, as I have developed a range of tools to optimise site selection and project concept definition accounting for the often highly uncertain input data available, I am excited to deploy them on projects of this scale. These tools mean I can examine the technical feasibility of a project within the regulatory, geographical and supply chain contexts as well as conducting techno-economic modelling to achieve the optimal solution to meet the developer’s objectives. This work with developers, to ensure their projects are a success within ScotWind is very much on the cutting edge of the industry.

What do you consider is key to successful project delivery for a developer if they are awarded a licence in ScotWind?

An integrated approach to environmental consenting activities, project engineering and commercial strategy development is at the heart of efficient project delivery and risk mitigation. At Xodus we pride ourselves in offering a combined solution where our environmental scientists, engineers and advisors work closely together to streamline decision making and carefully iterate the level of detail to ensure nothing is missed as a project progresses.

This multidisciplinary approach needs to be combined with a considerable amount of foresight and out of the box thinking to make ScotWind projects a success. Whether it is a requirement for novel foundations, use of larger turbines, limitations in the supply chain or grid capacity, these projects will have a multitude of hurdles to navigate in order to be competitive at CfD auction against the English Round 4 projects.

If a Developer is not successful in this round, what do you think their next steps should be? 

The ScotWind round has been highly competitive with both incumbents and new entrants recognising the substantial opportunity it represents; a reflection of the level of maturity that the market has now reached. Although the UK market will eventually become saturated for new offshore wind projects, there are currently still opportunities available, with a 2nd ScotWind round planned in the next couple of years, the INTOG opportunity for Oil and Gas decarbonisation through offshore wind, and pre-commercial project opportunities for floating wind in the Celtic Sea. Potentially larger scale floating project opportunities in English and Welsh waters will follow on from that before the end of the decade.

With opportunities in maturing markets on the decline, new and emerging markets offer a wealth of additional opportunities for developers with the appropriate appetite for risk. There are many undeveloped areas globally where the site characteristics are actually quite favourable so would not require state of the art foundation technology, such as north west Africa and the Caribbean, if a supply chain strategy and viable route to market can be established. Developers that focused on floating wind in ScotWind can look to emerging markets such as in Japan, Norway and perhaps even Australia and New Zealand in the longer term. Xodus has global capability to match developers with the right opportunities for them from the outset.