Bladt Industries A/S

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With a history of serving the oil & gas industry dating back over 40 years, Danish steel manufacturer Bladt Industries A/S (Bladt) held all the essential knowledge and in house skills to take this experience into the offshore wind industry over ten years ago. It all started in 2002 when the company installed their very first foundation at the Samso wind farm in Denmark.

It was offshore Denmark where offshore wind energy started and being the only large offshore manufacturer in Denmark at that time it was a logical choice for Bladt to get involved in this project.

Bladt is still the largest steel manufacturer for the European offshore wind industry. It holds an impressive track list of offshore wind projects to prove it. As a fact, it would be easier to list the projects in which the company has not been involved. Offshore WIND spoke to Mr Peter Rindebsk, the Managing Director of Bladt.

So what makes Bladt so successful? “There are only a few companies that hold such a very long track record like the one Bladt has built up over time.” Since its first project Bladt completed many successful wind farm projects. It is the combination of this advantage over time, our unique facilities and skilled workforce and project management that has brought us to where we are now.” Mr Rindebsk explains.

Production sites

The company has two production sites with a combined area of 300,000sqm. One of them is at their home base in Aalborg and the other is at Lubmin in Germany. Both sites are used for the production of steel components for the offshore wind market, including substations and foundations ranging from monopiles, jackets, bucket foundations and transition pieces, to the innovative twisted jacket. The Aalborg production site can annually process 200,000 tonnes of steel while he smaller sized Lubmin site processes up to 40,000 tonnes of steel.

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Their covered production halls can manufacture components of up to 70m by 30m by 15m. With an annual shared production capacity of around 200 foundations, these production sites already have produced around 1000 foundations and 12 substations for the offshore wind industries to date. A combined 100,000sqm storage area enables finished large components to be stored before ready for transport to site. With both sites having deep water direct access to the sea and their own quay facilities it is possible for large installation vessels to load the components.

Bladt keep their options open for expansion in the future. Meanwhile they keep improving their existing facilities. When this edition went to press a new paint workshop had just been opened at their site in Aalborg.

Most of the foundations produced are monopiles. Mr Rindebsk does not foresee a change in this trend in the very near future, “For the next five years monopiles will still be the main foundation type used. After that jacket foundations will become more common also, especially when used for the wind farms further at sea, at water deeper than 35m.”

When it comes to the technical challenges over time he is also clear: “The projects are now more complicated. Clients are more skilled and as such their requirements have changed. Communication and operation from distance have to be incorporated in the design. The first substation we built weighed 600 to 700 tonnes, nowadays they could weigh easily over 2000 tonnes! “

Bladt Industries does not take in the design regarding foundations, however they do offer their substation clients turnkey contracts (EPCI). It does have its own development team for the design of substations and is working on their own concept design for substations.

Market focus

At the moment Bladt is building solely for the European market but they keep an eye on the developments outside Europe such as in the Asian and US markets. However, Mr Rindebsk does not foresee entering the Asian market in the near future. “There are already large domestic companies there. Most of them come from the shipbuilding industry.” Neither does he yet foresee direct competition from Asia in the European market, due to the length of time to produce components there, shipping all the way to Europe, and then assembling them before installation can take place.

Future outlook

The industry is feeling the effects of the economical downturn. Mr Rindebsk: “We help our clients with both technical as well as commercial input to ensure that our part of the supply chain can’t be claimed if the projects are not realised as planned.”

He is aware that cost reductions are vital for the offshore wind industry to continue develop itself but he stresses that the industry needs to develop in a proper way. “There is a big task to change the young value chain into a stable and mature one. It takes time to achieve this.”

It is hard to predict what the future brings. Bladt keeps an eye on all offshore markets, both the conventional and the next generation energy being the renewables. Wave & tidal are part of the company’s strategy in Renewables but he thinks that oil & gas will also be coming back. Offshore wind will develop at a slower pace than expected but will continue to grow, and at the moment, it is in this market where the main focus of Bladt lies.

Sabine Lankhorst

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