Parkwind will make the first use of a floating wind installation vessel at its Arcadis Ost 1 project in the Baltic Sea, after completing a year-long investigation of the technique with Heerema Marine Contractors (HMC) and OEM MHI Vestas, which will be supplying turbines to the 257MW development.

The decision to opt for a floating unit at Arcadis Ost 1, located 20km northeast of the German island of Rugen, was prompted by “challenging” soil conditions at the project site that made use of conventional jack-up problematic.

“Taking the turbine installation based on a floating vessel from theory to practice is a major step forward for the offshore wind industry,” said Parkwind’s co-CEO Eric Antoons. “Supported by HMC and MHI Vestas, we saw this as the best solution for our German Arcadis Ost 1 project where soil conditions are challenging.”

Henrik Jensen, chief sales officer at MHI Vestas, which is delivering 27 of its top-of-the-line V174-9.5MWs for the development, said: “We look forward to bringing our technology and experience to bear at Arcadis Ost 1 and contributing to the German renewable energy transition.”

Exploration of the use of a floating installation vessel took place at HMC’s Simulation Centre, where “an authentic visualisation of the local situation, including crane and vessel controls, realistic weather conditions, sea swell patterns and sea bed conditions” was created, said Koos-HMC CEO Jan van Brouwershaven.

“More than one year ago, [we] started an intensive research to find out the possibilities of installing turbines utilising our fleet of floating assets. It shows our ambition to remain a frontrunner in the offshore energy market, and our commitment to operate in wind projects all over the world.”

The installation, on monopile foundations, will see the as-yet-unnamed vessel transport all turbine components on its deck including a “dummy tower”, which will provide a stable platform on board the vessel to assemble the nacelle and the blades.

This technique is seen as having two “unique” advantages: it “avoids all interaction” with the seabed to reduce operational risk compared to a jack-ip installation, and also, cuts installation time.

Arcadis Ost 1, which was among 1.61GW of North and Baltic Sea projects to win capacity in the 2018 German tender. will supply green power to an estimated 300,000 households.