The growth of the offshore industry has been made possible by the new types of vessels developed to meet the needs of the industry. These vessels enable the construction, installation, and maintenance of offshore wind farms, making them an invaluable part of the industry. In this article, we will give a brief history of the offshore wind industry and then dive into a few offshore wind support vessels and how each uses Armoda’s lines of modular structures.
A Brief History of Offshore Wind: The offshore wind industry emerged in the 1990s with small experimental wind farms in Denmark and Sweden. Europe became a driving force in its development during the 2000s, investing in larger wind farms and enacting supportive governmental policies. Technological advancements and economies of scale led to significant growth in the 2010s, with countries like the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, and others leading the way. During this time, cost reductions, competitive pricing, and the exploration of new regions, including the United States and Asia, continued to push the industry forward. Today offshore wind has become a vital component of global renewable energy strategies, with mega projects exceeding 1 GW in capacity. A wind farm with a 1 GW capacity could provide enough energy to power a medium-sized city.
Along with the growth of the offshore wind industry came the need for support vessels to enable the construction and maintenance of wind farms. These vessels range from standard types utilized in various other sectors to specialized vessels designed to meet the unique demands of the offshore wind industry. Some of the most common types of support vessels include:
Service operation vessels (SOVs) are designed to support servicing and repair. They are dynamic positioning (DP) enabled vessels that utilize a computer-controlled system to maintain their position by using thrusters and propellers instead of anchors. The vessels are constructed to provide accommodations and offices for the crews who service the wind turbines. They are equipped with gangways that enable the crew to walk the turbine from the vessel and a small crane to allow for launching and retrieving smaller craft to ferry works if the need arises.
The primary way Armoda supports SOVs is to provide temporary accommodation modules to supplement the accommodations the vessel already has. There are times when additional crew is needed to support a larger project or the growth of the wind farm. Typical modules supporting SOVs include Accommodations, Galleys, Diners, Laundries, Offices, and Recreation Rooms. The addition of the modules also requires auxiliary equipment in most cases, as the vessel’s utilities aren’t always able to handle the additional load. These accessories include generators, transformers, distribution panels, watermakers, marine sanitation devices (MSDs), and lift pumps.
Feeder support vessels (FSVs) are designed to handle the transportation of wind turbine components from the port to the field. They are typically comprised of a large deck with an integrated skidding system that allows for the wind turbine components to be moved from their storage positions on the vessel used during transportation to their lift-off position when at the field ready to be installed. Dynamic position systems keep the vessel in place during the lift-off of the various wind turbine components. These vessels have accommodations but typically at lower occupancy numbers, such as 30 people on board (POB).
The primary way Armoda supports FVSs is to provide temporary office and workshop modules. These vessels are focused on supporting the wind turbine installation, and the need for additional storage and workshop areas can arise. These modules can be configured to meet the specific needs of that vessel with the addition or removal of different types of shelving, storage, or customer-supplied equipment. There can also be a need for additional accommodations on FVS, and accommodation modules and auxiliary equipment like those described above can also be utilized here.
Wind turbine installation vessels (WTIVs) are designed for the installation and construction of the wind turbine offshore. These vessels typically use a jack-up design in which a set of legs are lowered to the sea floor and raise the vessel’s deck above the water’s surface. The vessel will use a DP system to maintain its position in deeper water where the jack-up legs cannot operate. The vessel will have a large crane for positioning and placing the wind turbine components during construction. It will also include a large deck for transporting components to the location. Again, the vessel has its own accommodations, commonly housing around 50 people.
The main way Armoda supports WTIVs is to provide temporary office and workshop modules. These vessels are focused on installing the wind turbine and, like FVSs, can require additional storage and workshop areas. As WTIVs often have a larger crew, there is sometimes a need for additional accommodations for a project. Armoda’s accommodation modules and auxiliary equipment can also come in handy to support WTIVs.
Field development vessels (FDVs), sometimes referred to as cable laying vessels (CLVs) in the industry, are used to tie together all the individual wind turbines and connect them to shore. They do this by laying inter-array cables, positioning electrical cables between the turbines, and then running them to shore. The vessel’s deck is equipped with a large cable carousel, a tower with cable tensioner, and guide units to keep the cable positioned correctly as it is laid. The deck will also house a module for controlling and powering this system. Additionally, these vessels utilize sub-sea remote-operated vehicles (ROVs), such as trenchers and plows, to clear the cable’s path and then dig and bury it. Like the other vessels in this list, they have accommodations that typically house up to 90 POB.
Armoda supports these vessels in a few different ways. The first is through our offshore office and workshop modules. These modules can be used for the control room for the cable carousel and ROVs. They can also supply additional storage space if needed. Technical buildings can be customized to meet the needs of the FDVs / CLVs to provide power and energy storage for equipment.
Armoda is a leading manufacturer of modular solutions for the offshore wind industry. If you’re looking for accommodations, offices, workshops, or technical buildings for your support vessel, contact Armoda today.