Offshore wind hampered by port capability
Analysis of 96 European ports as part of Carbon Trust report reveals few are fully equipped to undertake quay-side operations necessary to support the floating offshore wind sector.
As part of the 'Floating Wind Joint Industry Report', marine consultancy LOC Renewables, together with WavEC and Cathie Associates, examined the logistical challenges relating to floating offshore, including port capability.
“By highlighting the infrastructure challenges facing floating wind we are enabling them to be tackled head-on,” said Dr RV Ahilan, joint CEO of LOC Group.
“As the industry develops the necessary technologies to make floating offshore wind commercially viable, there is an urgent need for investment in port infrastructure to avoid delays in the deployment of large-scale floating offshore windfarms.”
The report notes that one of the major problems is that few European ports are capable of accommodating all the quay-side manufacturing and assembly required for building and operating large-scale floating windfarms.
For a start, it will require a suitably large onshore area for component set-down and production lines. An area for wet storage of assembled units will also be needed and the port should be close to other operation-capable ports.
But LOC’s research revealed that existing port infrastructure is largely insufficient: of 96 European ports analysed, only a few in Scotland, Norway and Spain were suitable for the development and operation of floating offshore windfarms.
LOC said that without a plan to develop a network of appropriate ports, the lack of suitable infrastructure for commercial floating offshore windfarms will lead projects to suffer from increased costs and longer operational lead times. If an assembly port is further from the windfarm site, for example, long and costly tow operations will be necessary.
In terms of vessels and equipment, the report further concluded that current installation and support vessels used for fixed foundation windfarms are likely to prove insufficient and new ones will need to be developed to meet the demands of floating offshore projects.
In particular, if construction is to be carried out offshore, the industry will need to invest in new vessels with greater lifting capacity.
By Anne-Marie Causer
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