Siemens hails service-vessel advance

Siemens has signed a multi-year chartering agreement with Danish ship owner Esvagt for two as-yet-unbuilt vessels that will service the Butendiek and Baltic 2 offshore wind farms in the coming years.

The vessels will break new ground for the offshore wind industry, Siemens claims, in their ability to remain “on site” at far-shore projects for weeks at a time, and the ease with which they will allow technicians to access wind turbines.

The service vessels – both 84-metres long and with a maximum speed of 14 knots – are being built by Norway’s Havyard, with delivery slated for early 2015.

In contrast to the “floating hotel” vessels presently used by O&M crews at many offshore wind farms, which require separate, smaller vessels or helicopters to transfer crews onto the wind turbines, Esvagt’s new vessels will allow for direct access using a hydraulic gangway system.

The system will provide safe access even in wavy conditions, Siemens says.

The vessels will accommodate more than 30 technicians and can stay at sea for “up to several weeks” between fueling and supply runs to shore. They will also include room for storing spare turbine parts and on-site office space.

“Less time traveling to and from shore allows for more time at the site and a more efficient and cost-effective use of resources,” says Tim Holt, chief executive of Siemens Energy’s Service Renewables business.

Particularly in Germany, the offshore wind sector is being forced to grapple with the demands of servicing projects which are very distant from the shore.

E.ON and RWE are both building offshore wind O&M bases on the German island of Helgoland to service nearby projects in the North Sea.