Record Record retrofit highlights growth in offshore wind

Van Oord offshore installation vessel 'Aeolus' in drydock at Damen Shiprepair Rotterdam Van Oord offshore installation vessel 'Aeolus' in drydock at Damen Shiprepair Rotterdam

The biggest crane ever used on an offshore wind vessel will be installed on Van Oord’s ‘Aeolus’ as the market – and the wind turbines themselves – grow ever larger.

A 1,600 tonne lifting capacity crane built by Huisman will be fitted on the Aeolus as part of a major conversion underway at Damen Shiprepair Rotterdam. The 139.4m loa, 44.46m beam ship entered the yard in September is due for delivery in January, stopping briefly at Huisman’s adjacent quay for the new crane to be fitted.

As well as removing the old 900-tonne crane, Damen will replace the ‘spud cans’ or feet at the end of the jack-up vessel’s 81m legs with bigger units. Further work includes deck strengthening, extending sponsons and upgrading jack-up hydraulics.

Van Oord has been involved in around 50% of all offshore wind installations in Europe, including (in partnership with Shell) the Gemini project off the Dutch coast which began operating this year. In that field, 130m tall turbines generate 4MW each.

The pace of progress in design means that the next round of projects are already discussing turbines of 164m in height generating 9.5MW each – a power output that has already been revised upward since planning started. That rapid development explains the need to retrofit the Aeolus, explained Dolf Elsevier van Griethuysen, business development manager, Van Oord Offshore Wind Projects.

He said: “Future projects may require half the number of turbines but the increase in weight of the foundations means that we have to add crane capacity earlier than we had planned. Aeolus is a well-built vessel and can easily accommodate the new crane.”

Timon Ligterink, sales manager, Huisman, added that the new crane design means that the additional lifting capacity – with a reach of 14-32m – comes at just a small extra weight.

While the size of turbines used in offshore wind installations is growing, the size of the market is also rising rapidly as costs continue to drop sharply as a result of maturing technology. Global offshore wind capacity reached 14.6GW last year.

For a full report on the offshore wind market and the response of Dutch shipowners, yards and suppliers, see the November issue of The Motorship, out next month.

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