Weekly Intelligence Brief: April 9 - 16

This week’s news brief includes DECC, NGenTec, Osbit Power, OGN North Sea, Offshore Group Newcastle; Osbit Power, Siemens Wind Power, Statoil; Cape Wind Associates, Flatiron Construction, Cal Dive International, Cashman Equipment; BOEM, BSEE; Bilfinger Berger, Crist, MARS; Germany Trade & Invest.

Cape Wind awards construction contract

Cape Wind has chosen the joint venture team comprising Flatiron Construction, Houston, Texas-based marine contractor Cal Dive International and Boston-based Cashman Equipment as its construction contractor to build America’s first offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound. Cape Wind is America’s first offshore wind farm to secure Federal and State approval and to be issued a lease to operate by the Federal Government.

Cape Wind, which expects to begin construction in 2013, is encouraging the joint venture to seek out subcontracting opportunities with local firms.

The JV, of which Cal Dive will own a significant minority interest, has been designated the Preferred Contractor by Cape Wind Associates. This designation empowers the JV to assist Cape Wind, on an exclusive basis, in project planning, financing and refinement of the project cost of construction. Final award and execution of the project construction contract is expected to occur in 2012.

For Cal Dive, the development marks its first entry into the offshore wind market as part of this joint venture.

Chinese manufacturers eye German market

Berlin-based Germany Trade & Invest, the economic development agency of the Federal Republic of Germany, confirms Chinese companies are building factories in Germany.

Citing an example, the agency mentioned that Chinese subsidiary Jade Werke will begin production of steel fundaments for offshore wind parks in Germany as early as 2013. The company is investing €50 million in a production plant in Wilhelmshaven, with construction planned to begin this summer.

According to the agency, last year, Germany installed 2,007 MW of wind energy capacity, bringing its total capacity to 29 GW. It added that the 30% growth of new installations still comes primarily from the onshore segment, but offshore wind will account for a growing share in the coming years.

This year alone, construction is expected to begin on six new offshore parks totaling 1,660 MW capacity along Germany’s North Sea and Baltic Sea coastlines.

Growth rates in the onshore segment were strong last year, the policy framework has been improved, and the offshore market ready to take off, said Anne Braeutigam, wind energy expert at Berlin-based Germany Trade & Invest.

Bilfinger Berger forms Polish foundation JV

Engineering and services company Bilfinger Berger, in conjunction with steel construction specialist Crist and the state-owned investment fund MARS, is to manufacture steel structures that will be used as foundations for wind turbines in deep waters.

Investment volume for the production location amounts to €50 million. Bilfinger Berger holds a 62.5% stake in the joint venture, Crist holds 25% and MARS the remaining 12.5%.

The company will make steel support structures for 80 turbines a year from 2014 at the Gryfia production site in the Polish port of Szczecin.

Once operational in 2014, more than 400 employees will process 80,000 tons of steel and manufacture foundations for 80 wind turbines at the facility, each year.

DECC awards offshore wind grants

Three companies have secured funding from a UK Government scheme to support the development of offshore wind technology. Edinburgh-based NGenTec, Osbit Power, and OGN North Sea, will each receive grants under the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Technology Strategy Board’s Offshore Wind Component Technologies Innovation scheme.

NGenTec has been awarded £782,991 to help develop its novel permanent magnet generator technology for large offshore wind turbines. This technology is expected to simplify the manufacture and assembly process for wind turbine generators.

Osbit Power has been awarded £615,000 to help develop its MaXccess- Heavy Boat System (HBS) offshore wind turbine access system. This approach will allow people to safely access offshore wind turbines in more difficult sea conditions.

OGN North Sea has been awarded £640,250 to build a prototype steel jacketed foundation for large offshore wind turbines to be installed at water depths in excess of 30m, developed by its sister company Aquind. This project will also develop construction methods for these foundations to increase manufacturing throughput and installation rates.

The first call of the Offshore Wind Component Technologies Development and Demonstration Scheme ran in Autumn 2011 to apply for support for the development and demonstration of innovative component technologies across the offshore wind system. With a call budget of around £5m capital, the funding will help companies with novel ideas that could further improve offshore wind systems. DECC and the Technology Strategy Board are working together on this scheme.

A second round of Offshore Wind Component Technologies funding will be launched in early May this year. This second round, which will have a budget of around £5m, will call for further proposals which can reduce the cost of offshore wind energy through innovation in offshore wind component technology, manufacture and installation.

Larger vessels, safer access needed, says OP

Engineering company Osbit Power (OP), which has been awarded a £615,000 grant in the UK to help develop its MaXccess offshore wind access technology, says future offshore wind projects require larger vessels, operating further from shore, in more difficult sea conditions.

To meet the challenge of gaining access to turbines from these vessels, OP is developing its MaXccess ‐ Heavy Boat System (HBS).

The development of OP’s technology will help in facilitating safe personnel transfer from the larger dynamically positioned vessels to be used on future offshore wind projects.

In the last week of March, OP, along with Siemens Wind Power and Statoil, successfully completed offshore trials of OP’s offshore wind turbine access system, MaXccess. The trials were conducted with the backing of Siemens Wind Power and Statoil, at the Hywind Demo floating offshore wind turbine off the coast of Norway.

MaXccess was installed on the wind farm service vessel Bayard 3, operated by Fred Olsen Windcarrier, for the duration of the trials conducted from Statoil’s Hywind operations base at Skudeneshavn, Norway. The trials, according to OP, saw successful safe transfer of personnel taking place in conditions ranging from 1.2m up to 1.9m significant wave height (Hs).

During the nine days of offshore operations, over 100 connections were made, with MaXccess clamped to the turbine buffer tube for over 12 hours in total, during which time 36 personnel transfers were made.

MaXccess incorporates a traffic light warning system to indicate when safe transfer conditions are present, thereby removing the uncertainty to which technicians are currently exposed when transferring using a vessel contacting the turbine with its bow fender only.

OGN North Sea focuses on offshore wind technology

OGN North Sea, based in Tyne and Wear and a part of Offshore Group Newcastle, is set for its foray into offshore wind technology.

OGN North Sea will receive £640,250 from DECC’s Offshore Wind Component Technologies Development and Demonstration Scheme. The company is to build a prototype steel jacketed foundation – Triton – designed and developed by its sister company, Aquind, at OGN’s Hadrian Yard site in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear.

Construction of the prototype will begin later this year.

Graham Kennedy, OGN Chief Technical Officer and leader of the Triton project, emphasised that the offshore wind market is dynamic and requires an efficient and driven supply chain to support and deliver its objectives . He said that Triton design and technology has the potential to reduce the costs of offshore wind foundations by at least 25%.

Aquind’s Triton foundation structures are designed for large wind turbine generators in waters over 30m deep. The company highlighted that this is relevant for over 70% of offshore wind installations in Round 3 developments.

OGN’s new purpose-built facility at its Hadrian Yard in Wallsend will be capable of producing 150 Triton jackets a year.

DOI hosts offshore energy knowledge workshop

More than 150 experts associated with the U.S. and European offshore renewable energy and the oil and gas industry met in Washington, D.C. recently at a workshop hosted by the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

The two-day Offshore Energy Knowledge Exchange workshop, a collaborative effort between the BOEM and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) with the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, helped experts to exchange information and build relationships in support of U.S. offshore renewable energy development.

The objective was to better understand the operating challenges of U.S. offshore renewable energy development and identify potential technical solutions offered by traditional offshore industries. During the workshop, the maritime and offshore industries and government agencies exchanged information based on international renewable energy and U.S. traditional energy development.

Potential technical solutions offered by traditional offshore industries applicable to renewable energy development on the OCS were also identified, including those relating to electrical infrastructure, foundation designs, installation methods and more efficient operations models.

The workshop is the result of a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2010 by Department of the Interior and Department of Energy to coordinate more closely on responsible development of commercial renewable offshore energy projects on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.