Wednesday, October 20, 2010

WTIV Market Expanding Rapidly

In something of a surprise within the world’s shipbuilding industry South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., currently ranked as the globe’s second-largest shipbuilder, indicated in August that it plans to generate 30 percent of its sales from wind power by 2020. “It’s a very ambitious target and it won’t be easy,” said the company’s Chief Strategy Officer, Koh Young Youl. “Still, the market potential for wind power is very big, partly because there’s a lot of interest in going offshore as the space on land runs out.” Daewoo, which is building two Wind Turbine Installation Vessels (WTIVs) for Germany’s RWE Innogyl group, expects to generate about $25 million from wind-power sales this year, and possibly as much as $800 million by 2012. However, Koh said that figure could go as high as $7.5 billion by 2020. Daewoo, which already manufactures turbines in South Korea, may also open a turbine factory in China as well as move into wind farm development worldwide. “It is our plan to eventually be able to provide a full chain of services for wind energy – from making turbines to operating mills,” Koh said. Although most offshore wind farms are being built in northern Europe, Koh said China plans to install a wind generating capacity of 100 gigawatts by 2020 to help it reduce its dependency on fossil fuels. To get a lead on wind technology development, Daewoo recently bought DeWind Inc. from Irvine, California-based Composite Technology Corp. and may start building wind turbines at its shipyard in Romania for the rapidly growing European wind market.

Daewoo Duo
The new WTIVs that Daewoo is building for RWE Innogyl are only two of a rapidly growing number of WTIVs being ordered or planned worldwide. The Daewoo-built ships, to measure 109 meters by 40 meters, will be jack-up type self-propelled vessels that will be able to transport four multi-megawatt turbines in a single voyage plus perform installation work in water depths of more than 40 meters. They are costing about $127 million each to build and will be fitted with a DP 2 class positioning system that will make use of six retractable thrusters of 1,600 kW output each. This is expected to provide exceptional on-station maneuverability as well as a transit speed of about 7.5 knots. RWE Innogyl plans to use the twin ships to build two offshore wind farms in the German area of the North Sea area, one of 295 MW capacity and the other of 960 MW capacity, as well as a third farm of 576 MW capacity off the coast of Wales in the United Kingdom.

Samsung Series
Another South Korean builder, Samsung Heavy Industries, has been contracted by Swire Pacific Offshore Operations of Singapore, part of Great Britain’s John Swire & Sons Limited, to build an WTIV capable of operating in depths up to 75 meters. Swire has taken an option on a second WTIV of similar capacity, with the first to be completed by June 2012 and the second, if ordered, in 2013. Both jack-ups will be for Swire’s new Denmark-based subsidiary, Swire Blue Ocean, which was created earlier this year following Swire’s purchase of Copenhagen-based Blue Ocean Ships. The Samsung-built WTIVs will each have a crane capacity of 1,200 tons, be equipped with DP2 positioning, and have single cabin accommodation for up to 111 people. Usable deck area for the 13-knot vessels will be in excess of 4,000 square meters with a total jackable weight of not less than 8,400 tons.

Singapore Seafox
Being built in Singapore by the Keppel FELS shipyard is a WTIV ordered by Seafox of the Netherlands to be delivered in the second half of 2012. This Jack-up type vessel is costing Seafox $220 million to build and will be managed and operated by WorkFox BV, a new subsidiary set up as a joint venture between Keppel and Seafox. Under the venture’s signed agreement, Seafox will have the option of purchasing all of Keppel’s shares in the future. The new WTIV will be christened Seafox 5 and will be able to carry up to 12 turbines at a time while installing them at depths of up to 65 meters. Because of the vessel’s configuration and construction it will also be able to support activities in the offshore oil and gas industries, offering a deck area of 3,500 square meters and a variable deck load capacity of 6,500 tons.

MPI Offshore
Following its recent purchase of Stokesley, UK-based MPI Offshore, Vroon of The Netherlands has gone to China for its next two WTIVs, both to be operated by MPI. The vessels are being built by the Cosco Nantong Shipyard and have been loosely based on the design of the world’s first WTIV, Mayflower Resolution, which MPI acquired in 2004 following the bankruptcy of the ship’s original owner, Mayflower Energy. The two new WTIVs will be slightly larger than the original WTIV, measuring 137 meters by 40 meters, and will have a number of other enhancements. These will include a much larger construction crane of 1,000 tons lifting capacity at 25.5 meters as well as more accommodation and enhanced jacking and positioning capability. Rotterdam-based Gusto MSC will supply the vessels’ jack-up systems and cranes while their engines and thruster systems will be delivered by Great Britain’s Rolls Royce. The total investment for both 12.5-knot ships is expected to be around $550 million, with delivery and commissioning scheduled for the first and third quarters of next year.

Also going to China for a new WTIV is Denmark’s A2SEA which has signed a contract with the COSCO Shipyard Group for a 132 meter by 39 meter ship at a cost of $139 million. A2SEA already operates four vessels capable of wind turbine installation and has installed more than 60 percent of all offshore wind turbines to date. The newbuilding, to be delivered in late 2012, will be a jack-up type with a capability to operate in water depths of up to 45 meters while carrying eight to ten wind turbines. To be named Sea Installer, the 12-knot ship will have accommodation for 60 people, a loading area of 3,200 square meters and a load capacity of 5,000 tons. Although A2SEA is owned by DONG Energy of Denmark, Siemens of Germany is preparing to make a substantial investment in this company, which should be completed before the end of the year.

Olsen Windcarrier
Going to the Middle East for new WTIV construction is Fred. Olsen Windcarriers AS, part of Norway’s Olsen Group. Windcarriers AS has ordered a 131-meter by 39-meter WTIV from Lamprell plc of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), well known for its oil rig work. The new ship will be of the Gusto MSC NG-9000 design and will be capable of carrying up to 10 wind turbines on deck. Installation work will be carried out using a 800-ton revolving crane to be incorporated in one of the vessel’s four jack-up leg mounts. Power and propulsion will be provided by four Wärtsilä generating sets to include one 6-cylinder, two 9-cylinder and one 12-cylinder unit, all based on the Wärtsilä 32 engine. A transit speed of 12 knots will be furnished by three Voith Schneider Propellers (VSP) while maneuverability will be enhanced by three forward mounted tunnel thrusters. The first of the Olsen WTIVs is expected to be completed by mid-2012 while the second should follow before 2013.

Beluga Hochtief
Moving into the turbine installation business but not yet ordering ships is Beluga Hochtief Offshore, a new venture formed by German heavylift shipping specialist Beluga Shipping and Essen-based Hochtief, a large construction and engineering firm. The WTIVs proposed by Beluga Hochtief will be of the jack-up type, with each ship to measure 147 meters by 42 meters and carrying a rotating crane with a lift capacity of up to 1,500 tons at 31.5 meters. Like several other WTIV designs the vessels will incorporate four lattice-style legs and a rack and pinion jacking system with a jacking speed of 1-meter-per-minute. Accommodation will be provided for 120 workers, to include the ship’s crew, while a landing deck will be fitted capable of handling Sikorsky S92 type helicopters. Although a propulsion system has yet to be announced, the WTIVs would comply with DP2 requirements and have a service speed of about 12 knots. Cargo capacity would be 8,000 tons, which translates to about 7 wind turbine generators of up to 6MW output.

Ulstein X-Bow
Proposing a radically new design for WTIV construction that would do away with the jack-up method is Norway’s Ulstein group, which has developed two new concepts for turbine installations: the Windlifter system and the F2F (floating to fixed) concept. The Windlifter would be a dynamically positioned X-Bow vessel that would transport four turbines at a time and use a modular, mechanical system rather than a crane to move the turbines onto their foundation blocks. According to Ulstein, this would result in a considerable reduction in power demand as well as a quicker installation time. However, the modular “clamp and skid” system, as proposed by Ulstein, has yet to be proven in actual operation. Looking beyond fixed foundation installations, Ulstein has also drawn up its F2F concept, which would make use of semi-submerged floating turbine platforms. Based on proven technologies from the offshore oil industry, the F2F wind turbine units would be constructed and commissioned inshore, then towed to offshore locations using tugs or OSVs. As the turbine units would float in the water they would not require sophisticated installation vessels. In addition, their decommissioning would leave no remains on the sea floor, which would not be the case for foundation units.

Service Vessels
Both the foundation-based and floating turbines would require annual maintenance and several builders, including Ulstein, have come up with new designs for service vessels. Ulstein has already signed a letter of intent with SeaEnergy Marine of Scotland to develop a new class of service vessel that would be based on Ulstein’s existing SX128 design. These X-Bow vessels would incorporate ship-based self-stabilizing platforms developed by Ampelmann of The Netherlands to allow maintenance workers to move between ship and turbine. Australia’s Austal group, well known for its high-speed catamaran ferries, has put other less sophisticated maintenance vessel designs forward. The Austal vessels would come in three sizes measuring 17.5 meters, 19.3 meters and 28.5 meters in length. The two smaller lengths would have an operational deadweight of 10 tons, a range of 330 nautical miles and a speed of nearly 26 knots utilizing a catamaran hull. The larger 28.5-meter lengths could be ordered with either a catamaran or an Austal-developed Tri-SWATH hull, with the latter having a better seakeeping ability in rough water. These craft would have a deadweight of 20 tons and be capable of carrying up to 52 passengers at a speed of better than 26 knots.