German researchers run quick tender to secure vessel amid high offshore wind demand
Fraunhofer IGD, the Germany-based institute for applied research in visual computing, has recently awarded a contract for works on the Nienhagen offshore research platform, part of its Digital Ocean Lab, through a tender that was organised promptly to ensure early vessel booking amid high demand for vessels in offshore wind.
The institute opened the tender on 18 April and a little over a month later, on 24 May, awarded the work to Baltic Taucherei- und Bergungsbetrieb Rostock (Baltic Diver Germany).
The Nienhagen research platform is part of the Digital Ocean Lab (DOL), an underwater test field for marine technology in the Baltic Sea, off the coast of Nienhagen, that went into operation in 2021 and is operated by Fraunhofer IGD.
The versatile test field is pre-equipped for different application scenarios and will serve to test, evaluate and optimise materials, modules and complete subsea systems under controlled conditions in a real environment. The DOL test field is further part of the large-scale project Ocean Technology Campus (OTC).
In the run-up to the commissioning of the underwater test field and the research platform, various work will be carried out on the platform itself and in the adjacent test field.
The modification work on the platform can only be done in summer or spring due to the requirement for a weather window of at least seven days and the coating work only being possible to be performed at temperatures above 10 °C, ideally above 15 °C.
“Since the ships are almost all booked due to the enormous increase in offshore wind expansion targets, we have to book a time slot very early on. Early actually means at least 3 to 4 months in advance. In order to get the largest possible group of bidders in the competition and to be able to carry out the work in 2023 (depletion of funds), it is desirable to make the tendering process as short as possible”, the contract notice issued in April reads.
The increased offshore wind targets across Europe, and new markets joining, have put a spotlight on vessel shortages in the near future, especially installation vessels.
While the build-out and maintenance of the current projects have already tightened vessel supply, what awaits the industry seems even more challenging.
Back in 2020, Rystad Energy’s analysis found that there would be an undersupply of offshore wind installation vessels by the mid-2020s and, with more offshore wind projects down the line, that the installation vessel demand would be four to five times higher by 2030.
With a couple of years of established markets announcing increased targets and new markets setting theirs for the first time since then, the pressure in this regard has increased further.
In their recent Industry Contribution published on offshoreWIND.biz, Clarksons said that, currently, all offshore wind vessel segments could be undersupplied for the remainder of the decade. Estimates from the shipbroker suggest that $20 billion of investment is required globally to build 200 new ships if the renewables industry is to be able to meet its 2030 targets for offshore wind production.
Vessel shortages will also be discussed at the annual Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference (OEEC), coming up on the 28th and 29th of November in Amsterdam.
With offshore wind being one of the key industries represented at OEEC, the conference session Offshore Wind: Business as unusual will gather speakers who will provide a deep dive into the subject of vessel shortages, from sharing their insights into this pressing issue to potential solutions the industry and governments could employ to ensure large-scale offshore wind deployment.