2011-05-20 - A new generation of wind turbine installation vessels is set to boost the productivity and efficiency of offshore wind farm construction. Powered and propelled by high-efficiency, low-emission ABB propulsion systems, these vessels can install larger turbines in deeper water under more challenging weather conditions than was previously possible.
By ABB Communications
Year by year, offshore wind farms are getting larger, the seas where they are located deeper, the distance to shore longer, and the turbines they use more powerful.
Much of this progress is taking place off European coastlines in the North, Irish and Baltic seas, where 21 of the world’s 25 largest offshore wind farms are located and new records in wind farm capacity, water depth and remoteness are continually being set.
All this puts increasing demands on the wind turbine installation vessels that transport and erect the turbines and foundations at the offshore sites. They have to carry more and bigger turbines, and be able to operate at greater depths and in adverse conditions. They also have to be energy efficient, and have minimal impact on the marine environment.
To meet these increasingly challenging needs a new generation of large-capacity, high-performance installation vessels is under construction, many of which will be powered and propelled by high-efficiency, low-emission ABB propulsion systems.
Swire Blue Ocean will have a usable deck area of more than 4,000 square meters and will be able to carry and install turbines and foundations of all types and sizes. The jack-up design has six supporting legs that can be raised or lowered, and which enable the vessel to operate at depths of up to 75 meters. Launch is scheduled for 2012.
ABB is currently delivering electric propulsion systems for eight wind turbine installation vessels on behalf of shipyards in China, Indonesia, Singapore and South Korea. Most of the vessels will be deployed by marine operators in European waters, where several thousand wind turbines are expected to be erected within the next decade.
One of ABB’s most recent orders is from Samsung Heavy Industries, one of the world’s three largest shipbuilders, for a vessel with groundbreaking performance characteristics for Swire Blue Ocean.
ABB is supplying an Azipod® CO integrated power, electrical propulsion and thruster system, which will enable the vessel to operate with centimeter precision at water depths of up to 75 meters and in year-round weather conditions (existing vessels can operate at depths of up to 45 meters and in non-extreme weather conditions only).
RWE Innogy’s (the renewable energy arm of RWE Group) two wind turbine installation vessels (left) will start transporting and erecting some 208 turbines and foundations at two offshore wind farms in the North and Irish seas in 2011 and 2012. Seafox 5 (right) is designed for installation and support services in the deeper waters of the North Sea (65-70 m) for the offshore wind and oil and gas industries.
Azipod CO is part of ABB’s highly successful family of podded electric propulsion systems. The all-in-one propulsion unit is more compact, lightweight and efficient than conventional propulsion systems, offering higher payload, lower fuel consumption, reduced CO2
emissions and outstanding maneuverability.
ABB was also recently awarded a contract to supply the power and propulsion system for a new generation of wind turbine installation vessels to be built by Keppel FELS and operated by the Seafox Group. The first vessel, Seafox 5, is to be launched in 2012 and will carry up to 12 turbines and foundations for installation at depths of up to 65-70 meters and in the most severe weather conditions.
Other notable wind turbine installation vessels for which ABB is supplying electric propulsion systems include two (with an option for a third) for RWE Energy built by DSME of South Korea; one for Master Marine built by Labroy Offshore of Indonesia to install 88 wind turbines and two substation modules at the Sherringham Shoal wind farm in the North Sea; and two for MPI Offshore built by COSCO in China.
ABB is the world’s leading supplier of electric power and propulsion systems to the marine industry, with the longest experience and largest number of deliveries of any company in the market.