Dutch heave compensation specialist Seaqualize has successfully executed the world’s first offshore transfer lifts of wind turbine components from a heaving supply vessel. The milestone was achieved with Seaqualize’s newly developed offshore lifting device, the Heave Chief 1100, deployed by DEME Offshore US in collaboration with partners Barge Master, Foss Maritime, and Seaqualize. This innovative technology is a crucial component in the installation of the Halliade X 13 MW turbines for the Vineyard Wind project, marking the first commercial-scale wind farm installation project in the US
Over the years, the industry has explored methods for executing safe and continuous feeder barge operations in the challenging conditions of the open Atlantic Ocean. Seaqualize, along with DEME Offshore, GE Renewables, Barge Master, Foss Maritime, and various US partners, has successfully transferred and installed the first turbines, setting a precedent for executing delicate but heavy lifts safely and efficiently. The heave compensation technology ensures stability during the transfer, addressing the challenge of heave motions in the open ocean.
DEME Offshore, a market leader in offshore wind installations, has pioneered this operation by transporting and installing wind turbine generators for the Vineyard Wind 1 project. The project, led by Avangrid Inc. and CIP off the coast of Massachusetts, is a significant stride towards reducing carbon emissions and meeting clean energy goals. The clean energy generated will power approximately 400,000 homes, providing opportunities for US companies to contribute to and grow within this burgeoning market.
Seaqualize’s inline Balanced Heave Compensators, particularly the HC1100, have proven to be a game-changer in heavy lift operations. Capable of compensating and fast lifting up to 1100 mT, the HC1100 significantly enhances the workability of operations, allowing for year-round installations even in adverse weather conditions. The technology demonstrated its capability to fast-lift full loads at speeds exceeding 70cm/s, showcasing its efficiency and reliability in offshore wind turbine installations. The HC1100 not only facilitates the fast lifting of turbine components but also offers operational flexibility. With the ability to actively follow the motions of the supply vessel, the machine can adjust to varying loads and types of operations while remaining in the crane hook. This flexibility is crucial for adapting to changing weather conditions and optimizing the lifting sequence, minimizing delays in the installation process.
Managing Director Gjalt Lindeboom says: “Some will say: ’Haven’t we done floating lifts for years already in the Oil & Gas industry? The answer is ‘yes’, but not at this scale, frequency and with such delicate, standard components. In Oil & Gas, it is not uncommon to wait several days or even weeks to execute one single safe floating transfer lift of, for example, a heavy platform top side, or vessel module. It only has to be done once and that is the project. Furthermore, the component is usually engineered and fabricated to withstand any undesired transport, lifting or installation loads, simply by adding protective steel.”
Unlike oil projects, wind farms demand a rapid succession of lifts, with each component designed for a 30-year lifespan at sea. Waiting for optimal conditions is not feasible, making balanced heave compensation a necessity in the cost-driven and competitive offshore wind sector.
Seaqualize’s success in the Vineyard Wind project marks a pivotal moment, reinforcing balanced heave compensation as a safe and efficient solution for offshore feeder lifts. As a testament to this achievement, the second Seaqualize Heave Chief, the HC750, is set to commence operations this month on another wind farm installation project in the US. With plans for additional machine production to support projects in the coming years, Seaqualize is at the forefront of driving innovation in offshore wind turbine installations.