First US Offshore Wind Installation Vessel to be Built with Oil and Gas Expertise

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On Wednesday, June 28, Zentech Inc. and Renewable Resources International (RRI) announced their intention to deliver the first Jones-Act-compliant, four legged, self-propelled dynamically-positioned level 2 (DP2) jack-up vessel to the emerging U.S. offshore wind industry.

The vessel will be based on a US-built barge. Zentech plans to install four truss legs with spud cans, a proven oil and gas design, and integrate them into a newly built hull.

In late 2016, the first U.S. offshore wind farm was commissioned off the coast of Rhode Island. In constructing the Block Island Wind Farm, developer Deepwater Wind had to use a wind turbine installation vessel — Fred Olsen Windcarrier’s Brave Tern — from Europe because no boat big enough to install the vessels existed yet in the United States. Because of U.S. regulations in the Jones Act, Brave Tern was not permitted to touch the shore, meaning that other U.S.-flagged vessels had to transport equipment from the U.S. coast to the installation site, adding additional cost to the installation of the project.

The Zentech and RRI vessel will solve that logistical headache. The company said that the vessel will also act as an oil and gas crane jack-up for decommissioning in 300-ft water depths when not in service for installing and/or maintaining wind turbines.

Design of the Jones Act vessel should allow it to navigate the New Bedford Hurricane Barrier, the company said. It will be able to carry and install components for at least three complete turbines, up to 9-MW capacity, according to the company. The vessel’s jacking system will be rated at a capacity of 16,000 tons, extending the unit’s service life.

The company said that the vessel may one day be able to install four 8-MW fully assembled wind turbines and will be ready for anticipated 10-MW capacity machines in the future.

“With larger scale offshore wind projects following Block Island, the U.S. market requires forward-looking marine logistics,” said Andy Geissbuehler, Managing Partner of Renewable Resources International.

“U.S.-made, domestically accessible and designed in concert with the advanced European offshore wind industry, this vessel conversion is another example of the important role the U.S. oil and gas Industry will play in accelerating the US offshore wind industry.”

Thomas Brostrøm, President of DONG Energy North America — the largest offshore wind developer in the world — sees the announcement as a “positive sign” and a “step in the right direction” for the U.S. offshore wind industry.

“This will help in the creation of a sustainable supply chain that includes several suppliers and we welcome initiatives such as this from serious market players in the industry.”

The companies said they expect to deliver the vessel by the last quarter of 2018.

Editor’s note: DONG Energy’s Thomas Brostrøm and RRI’s Andy Geissbuehler will both be speaking at the first executive summit designed to bring together the U.S. offshore wind industry and the U.S. offshore oil and gas industry.  The Offshore Wind Executive Summit will take place in Houston, TX on August 9 and 10. Register to attend the summit today!

Lead image: One of the five turbines at the Block Island Wind Farm. Credit: RRI.

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