Service Ops Vessel Concept for Offshore Wind
A new multi-million Euros European research and development project will develop new Service Operation Vessel (SOV) designs and business concepts to meet the urgent and growing needs of the offshore wind operations and industry. The project is co-led by ARTTIC and Rolls-Royce Marine.
As wind farms are moving further offshore, operations and maintenance (O&M) providers are following them into more hostile waters with more challenging service demands. The relatively high cost of wind farm maintenance today has a negative impact on the competitiveness of offshore wind produced electricity. In addition, the current safety requirements limit design and operational flexibility. Future vessels to service the offshore windfarms will have to be both more efficient and safe.
The three year long NEXUS project has been granted 3.3M€ ($4m) from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research program to help tackle these challenges. With a total budget of 4.4M€ ($5.4m), NEXUS ultimately aims to deliver an advanced service vessel concept optimized for maximum performance and safety with minimized lifetime cost by 20 per cent and with reduced CO2 emission by 30 per cent compared to current state of the art vessels.
Asbjørn Skaro, Director of Systems, Rolls-Royce Marine, said: “The number of European SOV’s are estimated to quadruple within the next ten years. Through the NEXUS project, we aim to provide a vessel concept with improved and new solutions for operations and maintenance of offshore wind turbines and farms. The overall goal is to make offshore wind power more cost-effective.”
NEXUS will develop and demonstrate a novel, beyond state of the art, specialized vessel, and logistics for safe and sustainable servicing of offshore wind farms. This will be achieved by designing and validating a reference concept SOV that will integrate new and emerging technologies. To allow room for design creativity and flexibility, the project will also recommend new safety regulations for windfarm service vessels.
NEXUS includes simulation, model testing and consideration of the most suitable construction and production principles for small series or one off vessels of this type. Key aspects of NEXUS include environmental impact assessment, cost estimation as well as both the marketability (technology push), and the cost effectiveness of the offshore operations concerned (demand pull).
Dr Romanas Puisa, Safety Researcher at the Maritime Safety Research Center of University of Strathclyde, one of the key leaders of the NEXUS project, believes that the project will have a great impact on the whole value chain. He said: “NEXUS will impact EU marine businesses by reducing costs and providing industry with a tool set that will give them a competitive edge in the European Waters and the ability to use the same process to expand in to new wind markets around the world“.
NEXUS will enable an increase in the professional skills of workers and the capability of the European marine and maritime industry to develop and commercialize specialized vessels and related technology.
This will particularly benefit SMEs and has the potential to support European growth and employment through development of a blue economy.