The startup intends to use a piling installation vessel and wind turbine installation vessel supported by a service operation vessel that can work across the lifetime of an offshore wind farm.
Bleutec is working alongside US-based naval architecture and marine engineering firm Netsco and Dutch heavy lift company Penthus to develop the three-unit solution it hopes will be “transformative” for the industry.
The Texan company says wind turbine installation vessels are currently either unavailable or inadequate for bigger wind turbines and their piling and foundation requirements. Meanwhile, new-build costs for specialist vessels are increasing.
Bleutec believes the piling installation vessel will be available from Q3 2024, while the wind turbine installation vessel will be available from Q3 2025.
The US offshore wind industry faces a supply chain crisis and the shortage of installation vessels remains a challenge, exacerbated by the Jones Act.
Dating from 1920, this Act requires ships operating between US ports to be US majority owned and operated. It has severely limited the availability of US vessels and may force wind installation companies to work from bases in Europe or hope to have access to US-based ‘feeder’ vessels. Analysts IHS Markit believe a lack of vessels – among other factors – may jeopardise President Biden's hopes of the US installing 30GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030.
Bleutec claims its vessels will comply with the Act and can be fabricated in US shipyards and worked from US ports. That is partly because they will be designed to be less specialised, allowing for “simplified, simultaneous and multipurpose operations” and requiring less specialist crews. Eliminating the “nice-to-have” options of specialist vessels and focusing on the most important design parameters will also make them more cost effective, it added.
Penthus stated that adding its innovative Dutch monopile installation method to the new solution would help create an “all-American solution”. Bleutec added that the solution would also be cost-competitive globally.