Contested overruns and performance of offshore wind power plants
Journal article, 2012
Offshore wind power plants are expected to expand rapidly in the coming years. These large engineering
construction projects are important for climate change mitigation. The paper contributes to socio-technical
understanding of engineering construction. Cost, time, delays and performance results of selected British
plants are investigated, with a focus on strategic misrepresentation. This megaproject concept is combined
with a socio-technical content analysis of offshore wind farms and provides a technologically precise and
contemporary conceptualization in comparison with complex engineering and megaproject approaches.
Based on publicly available data, budget and time overruns and underperformance are demonstrated. Budget
overruns range from 0% to 65%; time overruns from 9% to 100%. Operational performance indicators
reveal plants far below and just below estimations. These are all indications of strategic misrepresentation,
but according to project players, the delays originate from weather, product technology, site features and
processes. The findings thus indicate a latent controversy regarding reasons for overruns. A socio-technical
variant of reference class forecasting (RCF) is developed to explore whether RCF could improve the estimates.
Socio-technical RCF is developed for 10 plants that share foundation, national and geotechnical conditions.
This provides an illustrative example of a proposed uplift for London Array. Such an RCF should
be orchestrated with more governance mechanisms in order to improve future investments in engineering
construction, including offshore plants.
offshore wind power