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Next-generation jack-up vessels

A Norwegian collaboration to satisfy offshore demand

As a general rule: a taller turbine catches more wind and generates more power. That said, transporting such vast structures to offshore locations is no mean feat, especially given a lack of vessels to carry out the job. This is a joint-sector issue that, until now, remained unsolved.

The presence of offshore wind energy is growing steadily. But to achieve EU climate goals by 2030, capacity should increase further. In the course of this development, wind turbines are increasing in size and weight. This is because larger turbines capture more electricity and if they are effective, desired capacities can be reached quicker.

We are going to need a bigger boat

But there is one catch: installing such tall turbines at sea is a huge challenge and, in the not-so-distant future, most turbines will have outgrown the installation vessels used to erect them. This calls for a ship design more capable of supporting the task, a new ship that can handle the future turbine sizes must be constructed.

Subsea contractor Ocean Installer and the Vard Group, an expert in offshore construction ships, are tackling the problem head on. Together they plan to develop a jack-up vessel that can install wind turbine components weighing over 1,000 tons at more than 150 meters above sea level. “This ship should be extremely attractive for the construction of large international wind farms in the coming years,” says Erik Haakonsholm, General Manager of the Vard Group Offshore & Specialized Vessels.

As many international tenders for the construction of offshore wind farms are awarded to Norwegian energy companies, entering the global market for the installation of wind turbines is the next logical step for both companies. With their shared experience in complex subsea projects, as well as shipbuilding and design, the new partners aim to firmly establish Norway as a leading player in the offshore sector. According to Strømsnes, this change in direction is very important for the traditional Norwegian oil and gas supply chain, as it will have to replace its existing business with something else in the long term.

However, it has not yet been possible to confirm when the development of the new installation ship will be completed. However, one thing is certain: This would be a big step for the global offshore wind market. Europe in particular would benefit from larger wind turbines: After all, offshore wind energy is a major influencing factor for the climate neutrality target of 2050.

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