To remind you of just how interesting the first half of 2017 was, the Offshore WIND editorial staff compiled a list of the most read articles published during first six months of this year. Even though the industry has been notably active since the beginning of July as well, our team has decided to set the time parameter to end with 30 June and thus provide a new overview in addition to our annual Offshore ReWIND.Artificial North Sea Island Plan Moves AheadAfter presenting their vision of an artificial island acting as a power hub in June last year, TenneT took a step forward this March by signing a trilateral agreement – including TenneT Netherlands, TenneT Germany and Danish Energinet.dk – on developing the North Sea Wind Power Hub project.The so-called Power Link Island, presumably located in the shallow waters of Dogger Bank, will connect the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Norway and Belgium with the transmission cables simultaneously functioning as interconnectors between the energy markets of the six countries. The island will connect large wind farms located far offshore, allowing a potential total connection capacity of between 70,000MW and 100,000MW. This way, far-shore will become near-shore and the costs will be reduced. Staff, components and assembly workshops will be stationed on the island, therefore optimizing and simplifying complex offshore logistics. TenneT expects that the island could start operating by 2035 or 2040 if everything goes as planned.Germany Accepts First Subsidy-Free Offshore Wind Auction BidGermany’s Bundesnetzagentur selected three offshore wind projects by DONG Energy and one project by EnBW in the first auction for grid connections and funding for existing offshore wind farm projects, with at least one of the developers offering the lowest price bid of 0.00 Euro cents per kilowatt-hour. The average award price was 0.44 Euro cents per kWh, and the highest price accepted was 6.00 Euro cents per kWh. All four projects are in the North Sea.In July last year, DONG Energy also made headlines after the company won the rights to build Borssele I and II by submitting the lowest bid with an average price of 7.27 Euro cents per kilowatt hour – 5.1 Euro cents less than the originally estimated compensation.Boskalis’ Revamped Vessel Coming Up in 2018As of 2018, Boskalis will add a new self-propelled DP-2 crane vessel to its fleet, as the company has put Finesse, one of its semi-submersible heavy lift vessels, up for a conversion. After the upgrade, Finesse will be equipped with a 3,000t mast crane, dynamic positioning (DP2) and accommodation for up to 150 people, and will be capable of transporting and installing offshore wind turbine foundations. After the upgrade, Finesse will be equipped with a 3,000 tonne crane, dynamic positioning (DP2) capabilities, as well as accommodation for up to 150 people. The vessel, which is already berthed at Keppel Shipyard, will also be capable of transporting and installing offshore wind turbine foundations upon its completion in the third quarter of 2017.Boskalis mentioned the conversion of the vessel in October 2016, when it won a contract from DONG Energy for the transport and installation of the Hornsea Project One foundations, saying the converted vessel will be used on the projectSBM Offshore: Floating Wind Technology Is the Future (Interview)Pilot floating wind farm projects such as the ones recently approved in France provide floating technology developers with a chance to demonstrate that their products can be a part of the future energy mix, Joost Heemskerk, SBM Offshore’s Renewable Energy Product Line Director told Offshore WIND.MHI Vestas Launches 9.5 MW Offshore Wind TurbineMHI Vestas Offshore Wind launched the V164-9.5 MW wind turbine.Built on the industry-leading V164 turbine platform, the V164-9.5 MW wind turbine was launched by MHI Vestas on 6 June. The V164 platform’s 80-metre blades are already capturing wind energy on the Burbo Bank Extension wind farm off the coast of the UK. Just one single turbine is now capable of powering more than 8,300 UK homes.Siemens Wind Power CEO to Head Siemens-Gamesa Offshore BusinessOn 8 May, the Board of Directors appointed Markus Tacke as the company’s new CEO, with Michael Hannibal, former CEO of the offshore division at Siemens Wind Power, now CEO of Siemens Gamesa’s offshore business.The wind turbine market recently saw a giant being born after the merger of Siemens Wind Power and Gamesa, which now together have some 27,000 employees, 75GW installed globally, and an orderbook valued at around EUR 20 billion. In terms of offshore wind, the company concentrates on technology developed by Siemens, with the latest turbine having an 8MW capacity.Mating of Hywind Scotland Floating Turbines (Video)Statoil started assembling the turbines for the 30MW Hywind Scotland floating wind farm at the assembly site at the beginning of May. The same month, the first two of the five SPAR-type floating foundations arrived to the assembly base and were unloaded off Stord before being verticalized using ballast water and aggregates, reaching a draft of more than 75 metres.The turbines will lie moored in the fjord off Leirvik on Stord and undergo some final tests before being towed one by one to the field off the coast of Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The floating wind turbines will have a total height of 258 meters, with 178 metres of the structures floating above water, and the remaining 80 metres submerged underwater. The EUR 200 million project, owned by Statoil (75%) and Masdar (25%), is expected to be commissioned late this year.Denmark Makes Room for Testing 330m Tall Wind TurbinesDanish Government has approved the expansion of the national wind turbine test centres in Østerild and Høvsøre. Four new sites will be added, facilitating testing of turbines of up to 330 metres. Currently, the test centre at Høvsøre counts five and the one at Østerild seven sites for testing large wind turbines. Each centre will be expanded by two additional sites, thus leading Denmark to having a total of 16 sites where next-generation wind turbines can be tested. This will also allow for erecting turbines of up to 330 metres at the Østerild test centre and those of up to 200 metres at Høvsøre.In January last year, Megavind called for additional locations and facilities for testing wind energy technology and entered a dialogue with the Danish government to discuss possibilities to find additional prototype test sites. Megavind pointed out the need for 4-7 new test sites in Denmark to meet the growing demand for testing next-generation wind turbines.3sun Recruiting 100+ Technicians, Former O&G Workers Welcome to ApplyIn January, 3sun Group launched a recruitment campaign looking for more than 100 new technicians to service GBP 6 million worth of new and extended offshore and onshore wind farm contracts. The target of the campaign was local people with mechanical, inspection, instrumentation and electrical background who would re-train for roles on multi-client contracts in the UK and internationally.After completing the training at the 3sun Academy, they are now joining teams across the UK and Europe, with some earmarked for the “Made in Great Yarmouth” project at Great Yarmouth’s Outer Harbour. The 40-strong Galloper team is building the 56 6MW Siemens turbines for the wind farm at the purpose-built pre-assembly yard at Great Yarmouth port.DONG Explains the Thinking behind Subsidy-Free BidsDONG Energy revealed the factors behind the decision to place two zero subsidy bids in the first round of offshore wind auctions in Germany. DONG based the decision to submit the zero bids on several factors, including the ever-evolving technology, the location of the two wind farms, and certain changes in the German law.DONG also welcomed the extension of the project realisation window to 2024 by which the developer expects turbines with capacity of between 13MW and 15MW to be available on the market. With bigger turbines, the developer can increase electricity production while reducing the number of turbine positions at the same time.