In the rapidly maturing market of the offshore wind industry, it’s essential to stay ahead of the competition. How can we anticipate the market without a crystal ball to predict the future? By upgrading equipment and by developing new, revolutionary ideas, Van Oord is leading the way in offshore wind.
A couple of years ago, no one could have predicted today’s dramatic drop in the cost of offshore wind energy. Due to the strong commitment of turbine manufacturers, financial institutions and contractors such as Van Oord, offshore wind became a competitive technology faster than expected. This has resulted in zero subsidy offshore wind farms of which the first one will be constructed in the Netherlands, generating power as of 2024.
Arnoud Kuis, Managing Director at Van Oord Offshore Wind: ‘Thanks to our experienced employees, high-end equipment and past investments, we managed to cut back on the installation time for monopiles, and that’s reduced costs. Van Oord is now able to construct offshore wind farms two to three times faster than in the early days. We anticipate that wind turbines and their foundations will be even bigger and heavier in the future, but where will the growth in capacity and the increasing weight end? Nobody knows. For the near future, we expect to be handling 9 to 12 megawatt turbines and monopile foundations weighing 1,200 to 1,400 tonnes.’
Arnoud continues: ‘Offshore installation vessel Aeolus and heavy-lift installation vessel Svanen must be able to handle the latest generation of foundations, which sometime have diameters of up to 10 metres. That’s why we invest in our equipment. The Svanen has been modified this year and successfully showcased its optimised capabilities on the Walney Extension and Arkona wind farms. The Aeolus is already for heavy-duty lifting with the impressive 1,600-tonne crane. Thanks to this improvement the Aeolus is the biggest heavy-lift crane in its class. We’re also investing in innovative techniques and new methods. We have teamed up on several innovation projects in the development stage, for instance addressing noise mitigation. All this will help us retain our leading role in the offshore wind market.’
‘Our activities during the construction of wind farms have impact on the surroundings,’ says Wouter Dirks, Engineering Manager. ‘We want to limit that impact as much as we can using smart, cost-effective methods, so we have to come up with solutions. We are involved in a number of innovations to reduce underwater noise in cooperation.’ During pile-driving operations a Hydro Sound Damper (HSD) is used. A special net, containing air-filled elastic balloons and special PE foam elements, formed a curtain around the monopile and reduced underwater noise. Van Oord also laid bubble curtains on the seabed around the pile-driving location. These bubble curtains released bubbles of air that rose to the surface to form a barrier around the Svanen, breaking acoustic waves and further reducing noise levels.
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