Baltic Eagle Wind Turbine Installation Crew Flying on 40 Pct SAF-Fuelled Helicopters

Vestas, together with the helicopter service provider HeliService, has initiated a pilot project that involves Vestas technicians and jack-up crew being transported to and from Iberdrola’s Baltic Eagle offshore wind farm in Germany by helicopters using Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

HeliService’s Leonardo AW139 helicopter in flight offshore; Photo source: Vestas

The pilot project at the 50-turbine Baltic Eagle offshore wind farm, which is currently under construction and saw its first wind turbines installed at the beginning of May, will run during the wind turbine installation phase this year, until September 2024.

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HeliService is using Leonardo helicopters flying on approximately 40 per cent SAF, a blend rate close to the highest possible permitted today and also the first time that SAF-fuelled helicopters with such a high blend rate are used for an entire part during the construction phase of an offshore wind farm operation, Vestas said in a press release on 23 May.

SAF will be provided by DCC & Shell Aviation Denmark and delivered to Roskilde Airport, which will serve as a helicopter base during the pilot project.

Oliver Freiland, CEO of HeliService, said: “Vestas’ decision to use SAF for the crew change flights demonstrates our joint commitment to operate more sustainably in terms of Co2 reduction. HeliService’s Leonardo helicopters powered by engines from aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney are designed to operate with SAF already today.”

Vestas, which will assess the impact of the SAF after the pilot project is completed, expects CO2 savings of approximately 32 per cent per flight, compared to using a standard helicopter powered by conventional jet fuel.

“In relative terms, offshore wind projects experience higher CO2-emissions from construction and service operations than onshore wind projects due to the need of vessels and helicopters, and we need to develop new solutions for offshore wind to become carbon neutral,” Vestas states in the press release.

The company noted that the initiative in offshore crew transport using SAF is in line with its sustainability strategy which includes making the company’s operations carbon neutral by 2030 and reducing emissions in its supply chain by 45 per cent per MWh generated.

“This is yet another initiative through which Vestas continues to implement its sustainability strategy. There is a significant need for more sustainable solutions during these wind farms’ construction and operation phases. The potential for using SAF in offshore operations is high and we are pleased to further exploit this potential,” said Kieran Walsh, Senior Vice President and Head of Construction at Vestas Northern & Central Europe.

Baltic Eagle is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi-based Masdar and Iberdrola with the Spanish renewable energy company leading the project construction and operation.

The offshore wind farm, being built in the German Baltic Sea and scheduled to be commissioned by the end of 2024, will comprise 50 Vestas V174-9.5 MW turbines, installed by Fred. Olsen Windcarrier’s jack-up vessel Blue Tern.

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