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Ulstein Designs Vessel for Installation of Heavier Wind Foundations

wind farm installation vessel
Ulstein's vessel is designed to handle larger foundations for wind farms (Ulstein)

Published Sep 28, 2022 7:52 PM by The Maritime Executive

Norwegian design group Ulstein is the latest to propose an upsized vessel suited to meet the particular needs of larger wind farms and next-generation wind turbines. In addition to meeting the lifting and transport needs emerging for the offshore wind sector, the designer point to the opportunity to address one of the greatest vessel shortages that is threatening to delay the installation and deployment of new wind farms.

Ulstein reports that it has expanded its portfolio with the HX122 design, a larger foundation installation vessel. The 755-foot long vessel is designed to accommodate 180 people. The vessel would be equipped with a heavy lift crane with a capacity of 8,000 tons able to handle the larger foundations and equipment in the newer wind farms. In addition, it would have over 100,000 square feet of deck space to accommodate the larger assemblies.

The ultra-high-capacity crane and larger deck space are critical as they would permit operators to transport and install monopiles or jacket foundations up to 5000 tons. Ulstein has also incorporated design elements from its current vessels, including the X-Bow which improves the sea handling capabilities of the vessel.

 

Design includes a higher capacity crane and more deck space to handle the larger foundations for new wind farms (Ulstein)

 

“Significant R&D effort has been put into the development of our heavy lift vessel portfolio, working closely with industry partners on mission equipment integration, operability performance, and lowering CO2 emissions, creating safer and more efficient installation vessels using proven technologies,” said Ko Stroo, Product Manager at Ulstein Design & Solutions BV. “The ULSTEIN HX122 is our latest and largest heavy lift vessel design, allowing contractors to keep pace with the rapid growth of wind turbine foundations.”

In addition to the increased capacity and lift capabilities, Ulstein also points to the significant shortage of foundation installation vessels. They are highlighting research from Clarksons Platou Securities that calls foundation installation tonnage “the most under-ordered segment in offshore wind.” The analysts cited the need for additional vessels and increased capabilities as one of the issues that could potentially impact the progress of offshore wind farms. 

“We identified and addressed that issue already some years ago,” says Nick Wessels, Marketing & Sales Manager at Ulstein Design & Solutions BV. “Based on extensive market studies we developed what we believe is the most efficient solution for the industry.”

Analysts have highlighted the shortage of vessels capable to meet many of the critical parts of the wind farm installation process and the significant financial investment required to build up the capabilities. Several companies have moved forward ordering new vessels with the capabilities to handle the larger wind farms, their foundations, and critically the large turbines and blades. At the same time, design firms including Ulstein, Damen, and others are developing new vessels suited to the emerging installation challenges in the offshore wind industry.