Wind companies attempt to reduce costs with custom ships

Offshore wind power producers from Dong Energy A/S to RWE AG (RWE) are building custom ships at record rates so as to reduce the cost of a technology that’s three times more expensive as electricity from coal plants.

Bloomberg reports that as many as 20 vessels, some with movable legs that reach the seafloor, will come onto the market in the next few years, reducing chartering costs of as much as $261,000 a day, said Marc Seidel, an offshore engineer at Suzlon Energy Ltd. (SUEL), which supplies turbines to Germany’s RWE.

A lack of specialized installation ships has forced companies to hire barges designed for oil exploration, holding up work at projects such as EON AG’s Robin Rigg wind farm off Scotland’s western coast. The British government estimates that offshore wind may contribute more than 35 billion pounds ($55 billion) to the economy by 2050 if costs are cut quickly enough.

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

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