Ship shortage delays construction of offshore wind farms

The construction of new wind farms at sea risks being delayed, reports research company BloombergNEF. The reason for the delay is the shortage of large vessels used for the installation of wind turbine foundations on the ocean floor.

Offshore energy is considered a crucial alternative to fossil fuels. It should help reduce CO2 emissions and prevent the worst effects of climate change. However, with the wind turbines getting bigger and bigger, few of today’s vessels are able to lift the heavy foundations for the larger constructions at sea.

Global energy transition

According to BloombergNEF, the shortage of ships could slow down the development of offshore wind farms in China (from 2024) and the rest of the world (from 2027). Due to the delays, more than 35 GW of electricity production is at stake, enough to power more than 10 million households.

Offshore wind energy (and solar energy) is one of the driving forces behind the global energy transition. Still, the sector has been in a downturn in recent years due to high inflation, rising costs and interest rates, and shortages of raw materials.

Recent upswing

Meanwhile, the outlook for the sector has improved, partly due to the major plans North Western European countries have developed for the construction of extensive wind farms in the North Sea.

The recent upswing is also visible at soil researcher Fugro, a Dutch multinational public company headquartered in Leidschendam, Netherlands, that specializes in collecting and analyzing geological data, both on land and at sea.

Significant growth

Last week, Fugro announced a significant growth in turnover thanks to a large number of orders for offshore wind farms. Turnover increased by 15% to almost 1,8 million euros compared to one year earlier. And the company expects this growth will continue this year.

Belgian DEME, a world leader in the highly specialized fields of dredging, land reclamation, marine infrastructure, offshore energy, and environmental remediation, didn’t suffer from the malaise that affected wind turbine manufacturers last year either.

Although 57% of its turnover still comes from traditional dredging activities – DEME’s core activity – the company is increasingly specializing in installing wind farms at sea.

This year, DEME will invest 500 million euros in new ships and the conversion and maintenance of existing ships. DEME CEO Luc Vandenbulcke: “Our wind energy department is not only concerned with installing wind turbines at sea. We often have to dredge, drill holes in rocky bottoms, and lay cables. We’re one of the few who can offer all those services.”




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