Dutch shipbuilder Damen Shipyards is working on a new class of ships that will be capable of supporting the installation of floating offshore wind turbines as the use of the nascent technology is expected to gain pace in the coming years.
Forecasts indicate that by 2050, over 200 gigawatts (GW) of new floating offshore wind turbines will be deployed globally, equating to about 13,500 individual turbine units. Here in the United States, President Biden last week announced an ambitious target of deploying 15 GW of floating offshore wind capacity by 2035 and committing nearly $50 million into research and development of the technology.
Given the size of the turbines and the depths of the water in which they will be positioned, these floating offshore wind turbines, or FWOTs for short, will require chains and anchors of unprecedented sizes—considering just one installation dragging anchor could result in serious impacts to the entire wind farm.
Research indicates that each FOWT will require between three and six anchors each, with chain diameters increasing from a typical 152mm for a large offshore structure to upwards of 220mm, according to Damen.
While the anchoring technologies will remain much the same, the vessels required to handle them will need to be much bigger than today’s anchor handling vessels. And given the projected demand for their services, they will also have to be exceptionally efficient.
“There are many variables relating to the new vessel concept still to be assessed and explored, not least the final nature of the FOWT mooring systems,” says Damen’s Business Development Manager Offshore Wind, Wijtze van der Leij. “If larger numbers of lighter anchors and chains per turbine are judged superior to fewer but larger, the vessel design will adapt accordingly. But whatever the outcome, rapid growth in the offshore wind turbine sector is just around the corner and at Damen we are working hard now on the solutions that will support that growth in ways that are both economical and sustainable.”
To come up with a solution, Damen will work with its own in-house R&D, design, engineering and shipbuilding teams as well as in cooperation with suppliers and vessel operators. It even has its own anchor and chain production facility, while Damen’s Offshore Construction facility at Damen Shipyards Mangalia, Romania, will also be playing a part in the floating offshore wind market development.
While there is much work to be done, initial feedback from anchor handling specialists has been positive, according to Damen.
“Damen is also in discussions with other suppliers regarding new deck systems that can accelerate the loading of chain, synthetic rope, steel wire, clump weights and other possible mooring line components in the harbor while maintaining safety, a major consideration given the sizes and weights being contemplated.”
Sign up for our newsletter