Orlando-based Aeolus Energy has signed an agreement with Norwegian shipbuilding group Ulstein to design the first Jones Act compliant service vessel for the budding U.S. offshore wind market.
Aeolus says the purpose-built vessel, known in the industry as a Service Operations Vessel (SOV), will be the first among a fleet of vessels to support the full scope of offshore wind farm operations from installation through decommissioning. Additional plans for the fleet include cable ships, crew transfer vessels and hotel ships.
As a Jones Act compliant vessels, they will all be built at a U.S. shipyard and crewed by Americans.
“The design and ultimate construction of these vessels will result in significant job creation and is a demonstration of confidence in the American shipbuilding industry,” said Elia Golfin, CEO of Aeolus Energy Inc. “We are excited to be working with Ulstein, an established market leader in vessel design for offshore wind. We look forward to pushing the envelope in the offshore wind industry where Jones Act-compliant vessels are concerned.”
For the design, Aeolus has contracted with Ulstein Design & Solutions, B.V. for its SX195 design SOV, which will be fully customized to Aeolus’s specifications and U.S. Coast Guard requirements. “The project starts with customizing the SX195 design, to optimize the new walk-to-work vessel for operations in US offshore wind farms, including featuring the X-BOW and X-STERN hull shape,” Ulstein said in a press release.
The contract marks Ulstein’s entry into the U.S. offshore wind market as well, after having introduced the first dedicated offshore wind support vessel in the European market back in 2013. This year, however, Ulstein says it has already received five contracts in the offshore wind market, including two SOVs, a cable lay vessel and a large foundation installation vessel.
“Ulstein is proud to have been selected as design partner by Aeolus for developing the United States’ first purpose-built SOV vessel,” said Tore Ulstein, deputy CEO of Ulstein. “With our track record in SOV designs and supporting yards worldwide in building our innovative designs, we are committed to support Aeolus and its chosen US shipyards in realizing Aeolus’ new fleet development and jointly set the standard for excellent, Jones Act-compliant offshore wind vessels.”
Aeolus’ plans for the fleet come as more and more U.S. states, such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York, move closer having wind farms off their coasts. The Trump Administration has also signaled an eagerness to boost development in the U.S. offshore wind industry through streamlining the permitting process and by offering more offshore acreage available for leasing, part of the Administration’s policy to boost domestic energy production.
The first U.S. offshore farm, the 30MW Block Island Wind Farm, opened in 2016 off the coast of Rhode Island. Earlier this month, the project’s developer, Deepwater Wind, was acquired by Danish power company Ørsted, thereby creating the leading U.S. offshore wind company with a total capacity of nearly 9GW already in the pipeline.