Siemens Launches Wind Industry’s First Offshore Service Operation Vessels

Siemens Service Offshore Vessels
A ship's name that has a tradition: William Siemens put a cable-laying vessel called the Faraday into service back in 1834. Image courtesy of Siemens.

Siemens, a global leader in offshore wind power and wind power service, is the first in the industry to design and commission a new type of vessel specifically engineered to service and maintain far shore wind power plants. Working in concert with Siemens’ customer-tailored offshore logistics concept, advanced data analytics and predictive maintenance programs, the Service Operation Vessels are designed to help Siemens’ customers secure more uptime and power production from their turbines, thereby helping lower the costs of wind energy.

The ‘Esvagt Froude’ was the first to be formally christened on June 23 in Rostock and is supporting service and maintenance operations at EnBW’s Baltic II wind farm in the Baltic Sea. On June 25, the ‘Esvagt Faraday’ was officially christened in Hamburg and will be deployed for service of wpd’s Butendiek wind farm in the North Sea.

“Wind energy is going to represent a substantial part of the new electricity sources that will come on line in the near and mid-term future.  Siemens is committed to pioneering new technologies and new service strategies that make the lifecycle cost of wind energy competitive,” said Randy Zwirn, CEO of Siemens Power Generation Services.  “One of the ways we accomplish this is with these new SOVs that are a key part of our offshore service logistics for providing accurate, efficient and safe offshore wind service. We commend EnBW and wpd for being first in the industry to recognize the value of these new vessels as a part of their strategy to get the greatest return on their investments.”

Siemens SOV

The special vessels from Siemens are equipped with a hydraulically stabilized bridge, called the Ampelmann system. This bridge compensates for wave motion at sea to enable service technicians to safely transfer to wind turbine platforms, even under adverse weather conditions.

“We are pleased that Siemens has chosen us to be their partner for the servicing of the Baltic II and Butendiek offshore wind turbine farms. We are proud to have been given the opportunity to develop the world’s first purpose-built Service Operations Vessel; a vessel type that can realize Siemens’ visions for wind energy of the future,” said Managing Director Soeren Noergaard Thomsen, ESVAGT.

Siemens Service Offshore Vessels

The hydraulic Ampelmann bridge links the service vessel with the wind turbine platform.

Chartered by Siemens and designed in close collaboration with Siemens’ Maritime and Aviation Solutions department, the Service Operation Vessels are revolutionizing offshore wind service by increasing productivity, accelerating response times, and implementing advanced safety mechanisms that will allow turbine access in significant wave heights of up to 2.5 meters, higher than with traditional crew transfer vessels (CTV).

As new generation of wind farms are located farther from shore, the need is growing for smart, predictive maintenance planning and new approaches for safely providing service and maintenance in more challenging weather conditions, especially in winter months when wind power yield can be high. Siemens, with its decades of experience in offshore wind, began to explore new offshore service concepts with site-specific tailored combinations of SOVs, crew transfer vessels (CTV), helicopters, heli-hoist platforms, and jack-up vessels, based on each customer’s unique needs.

One of the cornerstones of this approach is Siemens’ advanced remote diagnostics and monitoring, which can remotely solve up to 85 percent of alarms. When physical service is required, Siemens engineers are able to analyze the data gathered to accurately predict specific needed repairs before they become serious issues and proactively take action. This allows Siemens to employ the right resources to accurately and efficiently address service needs with the best combination of logistics and planning.

With a large onboard parts storage area and comfortable accommodations, as many as 40 Siemens’ technicians will live and work on the Service Operation Vessels near the wind farm for several weeks at a time, significantly reducing the time traveling to and from the wind turbines.  This will help to increase the technician working hours in the turbine by as much as 50 percent over traditional CTVs. The motion-sensored Ampelmann hydraulic access system on the SOVs will contribute to increasing the working window impacted by weather by enabling technicians to safely “walk to work” in the turbines at higher wave heights. As the SOV can stay in the field for several weeks at a time, the vessel only needs to return to port for fueling and the replenishment of supplies and equipment.

In addition to being the end user of the SOV for offshore wind service purposes, Siemens also was a supplier to Esvagt A/S for two key systems aboard the vessel. The Siemens BlueDrive™ propulsion system helps reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, and Siemens hydraulics are used in the Ampelmann active access gangway system.

Siemens has also signed a chartering agreement with ship owner, Bernhard Schulte, for two Ulstein SX175 Service Operation Vessels to be purpose-built for the long-term service and maintenance operations of the Gemini and Sandbank/Dan Tysk offshore wind power plants in the North Sea.

Siemens currently provides service and maintenance for over 1,400 offshore wind turbines with a wind energy capacity of over 4.8 GW and is the only company offering an integrated solution along the entire value chain: wind turbines, grid connections, installation, commissioning, service, training and finance.

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.

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