This year Offshore WIND Magazine will be looking at the offshore wind hub ports. These are ports that have either become newly established as offshore wind ports or existing ports already serving the industry that grown beyond most people’s expectations in the past seven years. These hubs can be either a single port or a group of neighbouring ports able to provide the complete base support for range of services from project pre-construction surveys to wind farm operation and maintenance.
The ports have attracted companies to set up there with either base facilities for marshalling and storage of components or manufacturing and assembly of units. They have a good logistic infrastructure for the movement of men and materials by sea, land and air, an available work force, and finally they are close to the wind farms they will serve.
The Dutch port of IJmuiden already services three existing wind farms, Luchterduinen in operation since 2015, Princess Amalia Offshore Wind Farm since 2008, and the first offshore wind farm in the Netherlands’ sector Windpark Egmond aan Zee (OWEZ) since 2007. These three wind farms have a total rated capacity of over 350MW. The port is well sited today for the future rounds of wind farm development in the Dutch sector. Their facilities are closer to both the Hollandse Kust Zuid zone (41 kilometres away) and the Hollandse Kust Noord zone (33 kilometres away) than the alternative ports of Rotterdam or Den Helder.
It is planned that by Q3 2017 tenders will have to have been submitted from companies wanting to operate the areas I and II, each to deliver a total of 350MW, in the Hollandse Kust Zuid development area. The second round for areas III and IV will be planned for six months later also for a total of 700MW. 2019 is scheduled for the tendering to start for the Hollandse Kust Noord development zone also with four areas each licensed for 350MW each.
Beyond 2019 wind farm areas earmarked for development include three further zones in the Hollandse Kust West area, west of the Noord and Zuid areas and even further west of the Dutch coast the IJmuiden Ver area, but remaining, as the name suggests, linked with the port of IJmuiden. The port of IJmuiden is one of the ports in the AYOP organisation providing a combination of private and public investment to promote the ports and the companies based on either side of the Nordzeekanaal (North Sea Canal), the man-made water way which connects the city of Amsterdam to the North Sea. The port of IJmuiden is situated on the South side of the Noordzeekanaal opposite Velsen Noord on the North side. From the sea, the canal is entered through lock gated sluices spanning the canal between the two ports.
The largest of the locks is currently able to accommodate vessels up to 400 metres long and 50 metres wide with a draft of 15 metres. A new lock is being built for completion in 2019 which will increase the dimensions to 500 metres by 70 metres and to 18 metres draft, making Amsterdam possible not only for the new generation of cruise ships but also the offshore wind industry if it ever should need to utilise vessels of that size. Ship repair and upgrade yards established in Amsterdam have often been frequented by offshore wind vessels, but due to the nature of the installation and O&M work relating to offshore wind it is the ports closer to the open sea that are focussing on this sector.
The port of IJmuiden on the South bank of the canal has the most facilities relevant to this industry. Along the North bank on the seaward side of the locks there is bulk cargo deep water berth for the discharge of coal and iron ore from large bulk carriers destined for the adjacent Tata Steel works; while inland of the locks, Velsen Noord has a growing list of companies entering the offshore wind supply chain. On the seaward side of the lock gates in IJmuiden there are berths available for all the largest of the current offshore wind vessels. The Seajacks Scylla has berthed in the Haringhaven for installing deck fittings and frames prior to a project.
Probably the first company in IJmuiden to take advantage of what the then new offshore wind industry had to offer over twelve years ago was the crew transfer vessel company Windcat Workboats. Taking advantage of the experience gained by the two founders, one English and one Dutch, in the fishing industry they designed their own vessels and had them built to fit the industry’s requirements. They now have their own berthing pontoon on the Trawlerkade in front of their office and over 40 vessels operating throughout the industry.
A new crew transfer vessel landing pontoon has recently been installed in IJmondhaven on new land reclaimed from the sea. This part of the harbour is where Eneco have their base facility. From here their wind farm engineers are able to visit the two wind farms operated by Eneco, Princess Amalia Offshore Wind Farm and Luchterduinen. Their neighbours are MHI Vestas who have also set up their base here to support their turbines installed on all three of the adjacent wind farms serviced from IJmuiden. The IJmondhaven has a total of 300 metres of quayside with a water depth of eleven metres with undeveloped land available for marshalling and storage on the seaward side of the harbour, opposite the base facilities.
On the north side of the canal in Velsen Noord WIND Cable Services BV has built storage facilities for cables. Short term marshalling facilities required during the installation phase of a wind farm have turned into long term cable storage facilities for exact type cable sections required for the repair of damaged offshore wind farm cables. Cables stored here include replacements for the Rampion and Gemini offshore wind farms. This service can offer a guaranteed 72-hour response service for load out from their Velsen Noord base on to a vessel deployed to carry out the repair work reducing a wind turbine or possibly even a total wind farm down time costing many thousands of Euros.
The port of IJmuiden has its history in the deep-sea fishing industry but when the offshore oil and gas industry boomed in the 1970s the port found plenty of opportunities offshore. Consequently, there are engineering and fabrication companies and other offshore and maritime companies related based here and on the other side of the canal in Velsen Noord with a long history of offshore sector experience.
These ports make up a hub port with the potential for having a major influence on the future of the offshore wind industry in the Netherlands. The complete list of logistic amenities available here is rounded off with Roll-on/Roll-off berths available on both sides of the canal for freight from overseas and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport – not only a hub airport but also the third largest airport in Europe in terms of passengers only 24 minutes away by road.
This article first appeared in the February 2017 edition of the Offshore WIND Magazine.
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