Demand for larger, more advanced vessels will increase across all offshore wind vessel categories as wind turbines continue to increase in size and sites constructed further from shore, experts believe.
The trend follows an industry-wide requirement to increase vessel use and an appreciation that larger, more modern vessels usually offer greater flexibility in service operations far from shore.
Relying on bigger vessels leads to “higher production, higher availability, higher revenues,” said Bart Hoefakker, operations manager for Gemini Wind Park, which is 85 km off the shore of the Netherlands.
Even near-shore wind farm owners are looking to use bigger, more advanced vessels, though. Traditionally, projects that can be reached from a port within an hour or so have relied on relatively small and nimble crew transfer vessels (CTVs).
This is still the case, but research by Global Renewables Shipbrokers (GRS), a dedicated ship broker for renewables, shows wind farm owners are increasingly selecting larger, more modern CTVs over smaller and older craft.
“In general, in this market, we see a relatively small number of state-of-the-art tonnage,” said offshore broker Simon Werner. “We see larger CTVs pushing smaller CTVs out of the market.”
This trend looks set to continue as wind farm operators acknowledge that bigger vessels can carry out a wider range of tasks as well as transporting service technicians in greater comfort, which can help them work more efficiently.
“A lot of the owners for closer-to-shore wind farms insist on having state-of-the-art tonnage,” Werner commented. “We expect that nearer-shore charterers will not be satisfied with the smaller tonnage because they want higher availability.”
The ability for near-shore project owners to pick and choose CTVs is being helped by a continued influx of new vessels.