Offshore wind farm vessels must adapt to rapid sector changes

Owners and operators of offshore wind farms will have to “rethink their installation and service vessels entirely” as turbines get bigger and are placed in ever-deeper waters.

That’s the verdict of Rob Whillock, offshore renewables lead naval architect at classification society Lloyd’s Register.

“As the industry matures, we will see a greater number of larger turbines being installed in deeper water and further from shore, such as the planned 9 GW wind farm at Dogger Bank, which lies some 125km off the east coast of England,” said Whillock.

“Such developments will require owners and operators of offshore wind farms to rethink their installation and service vessels entirely.”

He was speaking as Lloyd’s Register Rules published new rules for wind turbine installation and maintenance vessels and liftboats to reflect industry best practice and new novel designs.

The new rules form part of the wider Mobile Offshore Unit Rules launched in June which are for vessels engaged in the installation and/or maintenance of offshore wind turbines.

Lloyd’s Register says the new rules and guidance notes come at a time when operators are suffering from “the substantial incremental rise in the cost of constructing offshore wind assets”.

Whillock said: “It is critical that throughout the process of independent assurance, there is an eye to the future of the industry as well as current guidelines.”

Lloyd’s Register notes that despite the fact that offshore wind projects have tended to run late and over-budget, the industry is forecast to rapidly grow, and highlights estimates from the European Environment Agency that predict Europe’s offshore wind potential could meet the continent’s energy demand seven times over.

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