Dutch offshore wind enters the premier league
Details have been announced of a number of important contracts for the Gemini offshore wind project that will see the capacity of offshore wind projects in the Netherlands waters more than trebling.
Gemini offshore windfarm (Typhoon Offshore), 85km off the coast of Groningen is owned by four shareholders: Northland Power Inc (60%), Siemens Project Ventures (20%), Van Oord nv (10%) and HVC Groep (10%). The project involves two separate windfarms, Buitengaats and ZeeEnergie, each covering an area of 34km2. A total of 150 Siemens SWT4.0-130 turbines will deliver a total capacity of 600MW. Two HVAC offshore substations will boost voltage levels from 33kV to 220kV for transmission via a 110km export cable to the grid connection point at Oude Schild.
The project shareholders announced recently that agreement had been reached with the banks on the project’s financing, the financial close contributing €2.3bn to the overall construction costs of €2.8bn. The shareholders will contribute equity amounting to a total of more than €400m. At the same time it was announced that Van Oord had signed an EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) contract for the windfarm, the contract’s value put at more than €1.3bn. Van Oord is perhaps best associated with the dredging industry which indeed is described by themselves as their “signature talent”. Like most other similar marine contractors however, their expertise stretches far beyond the traditional skills and offshore wind is now an expanding sector within the company’s portfolio. Along with dredging and offshore oil and gas, offshore wind is listed as one of their three core activities. Previous involvement in offshore wind includes contributions to the Prinses Amalia Windpark off Ijmuiden, Eneco Luchterduinen windfarm off Zandvoort, Belwind Phase 1 windfarm off Zeebrugge, Belgium and the Teesside Offshore Windfarm in UK waters. Van Oord’s contribution to the Gemini project will however be their largest offshore wind project by far, the scope of activities encompassing supply and installation of the foundations, the entire electrical infrastructure including the supply and installation of offshore and onshore high-voltage substations, inter-array and export cables and installation of the turbines themselves. Project preparations have already commenced, the timeline for Gemini seeing construction commencing in Q2 2014, foundation and turbine installation continuing through 2015, first power transmitted to shore in mid-2016 and full power and commissioning early in 2017.
The timing of the construction schedule is significant for Van Oord in that it coincides with entry into service of two vessels that will significantly enhance their wind industry sector fleet, introducing new additions of particular interest in their own right. Van Oord are currently integrating the newbuilding installation vessel Aeolus into their fleet. Construction of this innovative vessel was entrusted to Hamburg based Sietas Shipyard but faced the trauma of being caught up in the insolvency process at the yard. Van Oord continued to have faith in the project and the yard however and following negotiations with the administrators, local city government and Hamburg Port Authority, construction of the Aeolus was able to continue. Lloyd Werft in Bremerhaven assisted Sietas in the work and earlier this year the vessel was moved to Bremerhaven for installation of the four jack-up legs. Following the recent trend of newbuilding turbine installation vessels, Aeolus is based on a four-legged self-propelled jack-up hull. At 139m LOA the vessel has a deadweight of 6,500 tons and is to DP2 notation: the all-important offshore crane has a capacity of 900 tonnes. It is reported that the first assignment for the Aeolus will be at the Eneco Luchterduinen windfarm.
NEW DAMEN CABLE-LAYER
Of equal interest is Van Oord’s intention to use the cable-laying vessel Nexus on the Gemini project. The vessel will be the first example of Damen’s newly designed Damen Offshore Carrier 7500 which is currently under construction at Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania and due for delivery at the end of 2014. The 120m LOA, DP2 vessel is specifically designed for the installation of electricity cables at offshore windfarms. The laying of relatively short inter-array cables in particular, has presented challenges at some windfarm projects and this solution is intended to provide a vessel specifically suited to such a role while at the same time able to undertake other associated tasks such as roro transport and heavylift. A significant feature in the design of the Damen Offshore Carrier is a long open afterdeck (behind a forward accommodation block) covering an area of 2,300m2 and with a 20t/m2 load capacity. The deck area can be outiftted and adapted to suit various roles.
At the same time as the above announcement, Cologne based nkt cables stated that with the reaching of financial close for the project they had received a binding order worth approximately €165m covering delivery of more than 200km of 200kV high voltage submarine cables and related accessories, all to be manufactured in Cologne and due to be delivered to Van Oord for installation early in 2015. nkt cables will also supply cable for the the land portion of the project, consisting of 5km of 380kV cable and around 30km of 220kV cables to complete the windfarms’ connection to the Dutch onshore high voltage grid. For nkt cables, the contract will see them embarking on their tenth offshore wind project since 2010 when the cable factory in Cologne first started production of submarine cables. The company can trace their roots back to 1891 and have steadily expanded ever since. They now have a global presence, their latest acquisition being in 2013 when they took over the Sweden based Ericsson power cable operation.
By Peter Barker
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