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Contested overruns and performance of offshore wind power plants


  • Christian Koch


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Koch, 2012. "Contested overruns and performance of offshore wind power plants," Construction Management and Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(8), pages 609-622, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:conmgt:v:30:y:2012:i:8:p:609-622 DOI: 10.1080/01446193.2012.687830

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Brookes, Naomi J. & Locatelli, Giorgio, 2015. "Power plants as megaprojects: Using empirics to shape policy, planning, and construction management," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 57-66.
    2. Schwanitz, Valeria Jana & Wierling, August, 2016. "Offshore wind investments – Realism about cost developments is necessary," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 170-181.

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