Offshore Wind Developers Building Custom Ships to Reduce Costs

Offshore Wind Developers Building Custom Ships to Reduce Costs

Construction of 20 new custom ships, some outfitted with movable legs that reach the seafloor, which is being carried out by offshore wind-power companies ranging from the Dong Energy A/S to RWE AG (RWE) is taking a very rapid pace, Bloomberg reports.

The ships represent the final word of modern technology and they enable developers to install turbines in deeper waters, lift heavier weights and carry more machines out to wind-farm sites. Being a mixture of design solutions from various industries tailored to the needs for wind farm construction, utilization of vessels developed for bridge-building equipment or the exploration industry is history.

According to an offshore engineer at Suzlon Energy Ltd. (SUEL), supplier of wind turbines to Germany’s RWE, the vessels will come onto the market in the next few years, reducing chartering costs of as much as 200,000 euros ($261,000) a day.

“Having these vessels is the difference between being able to build the projects that we’re all looking at today and not,” chief operating officer of RWE’s Innogy unit, Paul Coffey, said by telephone from Swindon, England.

“They allow you to operate in higher water depths, in more inclement water conditions. They allow you to get the job done faster and more safely,” he added.

Ever Greater Demand for Custom Barges

The need for such vessels is even greater having in mind that Europe plans to install about 10.4 gigawatts of offshore wind turbines from this year through 2015, which is over 70% of the global total. Therefore, having in mind that offshore wind technology costs three times more than power generated at coal plants, cutting costs in offshore industry by introduction of such vessels is a paramount.

For example, RWE purchased 200 million euros worth custom-made craft, better known as jackup barge, capable at operating at 148 feet deep waters in addition to the ability of adapting to different water depths and heights of the wind turbine towers.

In addition, A2Sea, a Siemens-Dong venture, which is engaged in construction of the London Array, the world’s largest approved offshore wind park of 1-gigawatt capacity announced in March procurement of its fourth $155 million custom- made vessel, to be built by 2014.

“The larger vessels will be fully booked at least until 2020,” Chief Executive Officer of A2Sea, Jens Frederik Hansen said, adding that “the smaller vessels will go into the service area probably for maintenance.”

Increasing demand for jackup barges is also confirmed by the last month’s acquisition of shipbuilder Seajacks International Ltd. by Marubeni Corp. and Innovation Network Corp. of Japan, amounting to $850 million.


Offshore WIND staff, April 10, 2012; Image: rwe