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Vestas links with Maersk Supply Service for 'Vertical Installer'

Wind OEM joins offshore service specialist and MHI Vestas for crane system project claimed to offer big cost-saving potential on land and sea

Vestas has teamed up with offshore service specialist Maersk Supply Service to develop an innovative crane-based system it is claimed could slash the cost of offshore and onshore wind turbine installation – the first project in a wider partnership planned by the two.

The lead-off project to commercialise a concept called Vertical Installer is being advanced in conjunction with MHI Vestas, the offshore turbine OEM part-owned by Vestas, and with the backing of DKr47m ($7.3m) of funding from the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Programme (EUDP) of the Danish Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate.

Maersk Supply Service, which has been working on the concept for 18 months, said it hopes to be able to retrofit the Vertical Installer crane to its existing fleet, widening the pool of vessels available for installation and “significantly” lowering costs for project developers.

The partners remained tight-lipped over the details of the technology, which is still the subject of patent applications, but said they hope to have a prototype ready for Q4 2019 with commercial production within the next three years.

The Vertical Installer will be able to install all offshore turbine components except the foundation, Steen Karstensen, CEO of Maersk Supply Service told Recharge.

“There are challenges to overcome as in any project, but we are encouraged by earthing we’ve seen so far and everything we’ve discussed with Vestas,” said Karstensen, who added that the joint project marks a “cornerstone” of his company’s diversification into renewables as it faces up to a more challenging oil and gas sector.

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Early work on the project convinced Vestas that the system could also have game-changing applications in onshore installation, said the wind OEM’s senior vice president for innovation & concepts, Bo Svoldgaard.

The two companies swiftly decided to widen their cooperation into other areas of logistics, transportation and installation, which Svoldgaard said represent some of the industry’s biggest challenges as it deals with larger machines in farther flung, more challenging sites – whether on- or offshore.

“The partnership with Maersk Supply Service will significantly improve and expand Vestas’ existing market-leading capabilities for advanced installation and logistics solutions. We have a strong strategic fit, and the new Vertical Installer crane underlines how the partnership will support our goal to improve our efficiency in an area that will grow in importance as turbine components get bigger and infrastructure become more complex,” said Svoldgaard.

Flemming Ougaard, chief operations officer at MHI Vestas, which will provide the necessary offshore expertise and testing facilities, added: “The Vertical Installer crane is the latest example of innovation that will continue to drive offshore wind forward. The concept will allow for improved logistics and more efficient installation – critical areas for our customers’ business case.”

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