GCube’s Renewable Energy Risk Seminar

GCube was delighted to be back on track with our Risk Seminar series of events on 15th and 16th September 2021, at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Edinburgh.  This event drew together market leaders in risk management and renewable energy insurance from the UK and further afield, securing a strong line up of speakers from SSE Renewables, Lloyd Warwick International, Sonnedix, and Capital Consulting International, who gave insightful presentations. Our panellists also included McGill and Partners and GCube Underwriting.

Fraser McLachlan, CEO of GCube, began the Seminar with a brief overview of market dynamics and the performance of GCube Insurance over the past 12 months. He also set out the structure for the talks, introducing our speakers and welcoming on stage James McCallum.

Offshore Wind Market opportunities and challenges

James McCallum, Head of Insurance at SSE Renewables, spoke on ‘Building Sustainably: Gearing Up for Global Growth in Offshore’. With SSE having one of the largest offshore wind development pipelines in the world, James looked at growth prospects for offshore wind globally, outlining SSE’s strategy to scale quickly and sustainably by keeping on top of market risks.

Following on, Matthew Yau, Director at Lloyd Warwick International, discussed the challenges of subsea cables as a costly point of failure in his talk, ‘Down to the Wire… Again: Analysing Offshore Wind Cable Failures’. A pressing challenge for offshore wind farms, subsea cables account for more than half of total claims spends over the past decade. Matt offered some insight on this ‘elephant in the room’ and how these problems might be mitigated.

Panel Session: Supporting the Offshore Wind Industry

We were also joined by Angela Kelly, Partner, McGill and Partners and Stuart Burchell, CUO, GCube Underwriting, for a pertinent panel discussion on ‘How Can the Insurance Market Better Support Offshore Wind?’. This was followed by an active Q&A with many valuable contributions on whether the ‘race to the bottom’ in offshore wind can be tackled once and for all A large part of the discussion was formed with thoughts on how underwriting practices could or should change to ensure a stable foundation for offshore wind expansion.

Mature and Emerging Markets: Solar

Turning the focus to solar, our next speaker, Stuart Leask, Senior Insurance & Claims Manager at Sonnedix stepped up to present ‘Growing Pains: Developing a Global Solar Portfolio’ – a look at how solar projects and portfolios are growing in scale and complexity, while simultaneously moving into new markets and geographies, with new environmental challenges.

Stuart ran through some examples of thefts, floods and equipment failure, discussing how Sonnedix successfully realised significant scale in Europe whilst managing market-specific risks, in order to bring projects to fruition across Asia, South America and Africa.

Are we using data as well as we could be?

Offshore Principal at Clir, Bronwyn Sutton, ran through the importance of metrics in the context of delivering on the potential of renewable energy assets for business value.

In her presentation, ‘How to Measure the True Value of your Renewable Energy Assets’. Bronwyn explained that high-capacity factors and outstanding technical performance may look great on paper, but, in today’s market, they may have little bearing on the financial performance and value of assets. Bronwyn explained the metrics asset owners should really be worried about.

Conversations prompted by the day’s events were given the chance to continue during a whisky tasting and dinner in the early evening.

Construction challenges and potential solutions

The second day kicked off with a presentation on the insurance impact of logistical challenges of building wind farms from Alan Purbrick, CEO, Capital Consulting International. Alan outlined that, with construction claims hitting the insurance market hard in recent years, a delay in start-up (DSU) is even more damaging to developers and asset owners seeking to get projects up and running.

He addressed some of the challenges that asset owners might face during the assessment of a DSU claim and offered some sound advice on steps that can be taken to smooth over the process.

Emerging trends in Offshore Wind Risk

As GCube launches its offshore wind claims report, which looks back over 10 years of loss experience, and ahead to the next 10 years, Josh Cantwell, Senior Underwriter at GCube Insurance presented ‘Emerging Trends in Offshore Wind Risk’. Josh outlined the key emerging threats to global offshore wind development and operations, as identified by GCube’s claims and underwriting teams.

The aptly-named, ‘Better Call Paul: Offshore Wind Claims 2010-2020’ was the next presentation by Paul Nicholls & Roy Muñoz. In this presentation, they analysed the most common causes of financial losses in offshore wind over the past 10 years, before taking an in-depth look at some uniquely challenging claims handled by the market during that time.

Our energy-insurance packed day was topped off with a guided tour of the Royal Mile, and visit to Edinburgh Castle, followed by another whisky tasting and dinner.

GCube’s risk seminars continue to act as an excellent forum for sharing experiences and ideas, and the quality of speakers and discussion continues to improve as we build on positive feedback from our ongoing programme of onshore and offshore events.