Billions of pounds are likely to be spent on new wind turbine and foundation installation vessels this decade as industry moves address the looming shortage.
According to research carried out by analytics firm Intelatus Global Partners, investment of between £3.3bn and £6.5bn will be needed to meet international demand.
That translates to at least 10 foundation installation vessels (WFIVs), and/or six more wind turbine installation vessels (WTIVs).
Across the globe, the number of offshore turbines in operation is steadily growing as efforts to decarbonise gather pace.
A looming shortage
But there are widespread concerns that when the transition is in full swing, there could be a shortage of vessels capable of installing the various bits of kit needed for a wind farm.
“A looming vessel shortage threatens to derail offshore wind ambition,” warned Jon Oliver Bryce, an energy vessel market expert and founder of UK-based heavy lift business Zero-C Offshore, in a recent Energy Voice article.
Philip Lewis, director of research at Intelatus, said: “Offshore wind activity was until recently centered in northwest Europe and China, driven by government subsidies provided to support energy transition targets.
“Going forward, new European markets will emerge off the coasts of the Baltic, Atlantic and Mediterranean. Activity will be seen in the wider Asian region including Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Australia and India. The US will emerge as one of the largest bottom-fixed installation markets during the forecast period.
“Several of the new offshore wind markets are shaped by local content preferences impacting, to various degrees local ownership, registration and flagging, crewing and vessel build content.”
Emerging offshore wind hotspots mean WTIV and WFIV demand is “rapidly changing”, and purpose built vessels, capable of handling massive components, are needed.
“Additional turbine and foundation installation vessels will be required to meet international demand” from 2025, said Mr Lewis.
Almost 30,000 turbines to be fitted
Intelatus’ latest report predicts nearly 30,000 “increasingly large” fixed-bottom turbines and foundations will be installed between 2022 and 2035.
When analysing the number of vessels that will be needed to complete the work, infers an “investment of $4-8 billion”.
Mr Lewis said: “The decision to invest in new vessels and upgrades will be influenced by a number of underlying market conditions, which we examine in depth in the report.”
He added: “The report presents our analysis and forecast of the international bottom-fixed offshore wind turbine and foundation installation vessel market through 2035.
“The 130+ page report provides a guide to understanding the drivers that will shape requirements in this growing, globalizing and technically evolving industry.
“The report examines the structure of the installation industry, profiles the underlying market drivers, forecasts wind installation activity through 2035 and identifies installation vessels required to meet future demand.”