Building for the future: STX – Finland

One of the largest ship builders in the world has two huge shipyards very close to each other in Finland. STX Finland has taken over the shipyards in Turku and in Rauma, and taken a 50% stake in a shipyard in Helsinki.

While most of the 2500 STX employees are busy with the design and build of cruise liners, ferries and ice breakers, there is a growing number looking at offshore wind.

In the Turku shipyard, dwarfed by really, very large halls used for the construction and painting of sections of vessels to be joined up in the dry dock there is a small section devoted to the design and development offshore wind turbine foundations.

The design is still in development but it is basically a relatively light steel construction, for easy installation, that uses ballast to give it weight and permanence on the sea bed. Such gravity based designs seem very promising for the Baltic Sea conditions. Ice conditions and how to handle drift ice have been analysed at Aker Arctic, of which STX Europe owns a share.

An interesting and innovative idea used by them is their approach to cost and design. While most industries design their products and then rely on developments and mass production to reduce the unit cost, the Finnish yard takes the cost first and then looks at what can be made to do the job within that cost.

STX Finland Windenergy has been involved in Design-to-Cost efforts together with leading offshore wind farm developers in the Baltic Sea since early 2011. Because of the very different sea bed conditions in the Baltic the need to design a foundation specifically for these conditions was obvious.

However it does not mean that the design and lessons learned in this area may not be applicable for sea beds else where in the world.

Dick Hill