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Friday, May 31, 2019 

New 12MW offshore wind turbines will push the capacity of second and third-generation wind turbine installation vessels to the limits and require a new generation of jack-ups, warns Noway’s Ulstein.

Although some second-generation installation jack-ups have been upgraded to cope with the higher lifting heights for 8MW wind turbines, the increase in turbine size means these second-generation wind installation vessels could be inefficient. Even new designs, which emerged in 2015, “will be pushed to their limits by the new 12MW wind turbines expected in 2022”, says the company.

“The big challenge is how to properly design the next generation jack-up. Making it only slightly larger than the current generation, and it might be obsolete within a few years. Make it too large and it may never be competitive in the market,” the designer says in a post on its website.

For turbine installations, Ulstein has assessed different types and sizes of vessels and jack-ups to provide insight into which technical solutions and designs work from a business perspective. Working with business models and studying the results has enabled the company to better understand the challenges of its clients face.

“One of the interesting lessons is that economies of scale has its limits for wind installation vessels; the economic sweet spot is not necessarily the largest unit,” says Ulstein.

With the business case results Ulsein has optimised and further developed its range of wind installation jack-ups. Featuring lower steel weight, higher crane capacity and better operability, the company's  X-JACK design is capable of handling turbines upto 15MW, cutting upto 25% in total installation costs in comparison to currently available jack-ups.

"We have been able to optimise the main dimensions of the Ulstein J102 to be the most competitive solution in the market; both for the near future as well as for the next generation wind turbines envisioned in 2030," it says.

Jan de Nul recently announced the construction Voltaire, possibly the first fourth generation installation jack-ups. With its size and lifting capacity, the vessel will be able to install 12MW wind turbines and appears to be ready for the expected further growth in turbine size in the decade to come.

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