• Thu. Aug 11th, 2022

Bleutec CEO addresses the challenges of installing offshore wind turbines

ByLinda W. Smith

Jul 26, 2022

Created in May 2018, Bleutec Industries has developed a fleet of vessels for the offshore wind installation. The mission of the Houston-based startup is to build and operate installation vessels, all of which are US Jones Act compliant, and provide a suitable solution as a transportation and installation contractor for the offshore wind market.

“Bleutec is a company that has been developing innovative concepts for three years,” said President and CEO Robin Bodtmann. On July 4, the company announced the notification of the proof of concept and the continuation of the reinforcement of its team to support the construction of the vessels.

In a Offshore exclusive, Bodtmann shared his thoughts on the current challenges and solutions facing the offshore wind industry in transportation, installation, operation and maintenance. She also detailed Bleutec’s new Binary Marine Installation Solution (BMIS) and how her team believes this concept of a fleet of vessels will “revolutionize” the offshore industry.

Bleutec is working with marine engineers NETSCo and heavy lift specialist Penthus to develop BMIS as an alternative to the more expensive jack-up wind installation vessels used in the offshore wind market. The BMIS model is a three-unit package built around two vessels (i.e. working in up to 50m water depth. Both vessels will run on dual fuel and have a lithium-ion battery backup on board.

Offshore: What was the motivation behind the creation of Bleutec?

Bodman: Bleutec was founded as a clean energy company to address supply chain needs for offshore wind turbine construction services in the US Jones Act market. We are a collaboration of people with experiences in the offshore industry, both traditional energy and renewable energy.

Offshore: What are your main business objectives for 2023 and 2024?

Bodman: The years 2023 and 2024 will be heavily focused on shipbuilding and operational readiness activities such as workforce development and rounding out temporary elements of our scope. Our team will be strongly engaged in developing the customer relationship and understanding the potential supply of our vessels.

Offshore: What transportation and installation challenges do offshore wind developers face, and how can they be solved?

Bodman: First, there is a projected significant shortage of assets available to install offshore wind farms around the world. This problem is even greater for heavier and larger monopile foundations planned for the future, where many units lack the necessary lifting capacity.

Additionally, and particularly in the United States, the Jones Act prevents components from being transported by international vessel. This requires a different approach to logistics to deliver wind turbine components to the offshore site.

By providing Jones Act ships with significantly less complexity, construction time and manufacturing budgets are best optimized. This will allow delivery of vessels within project requirements and their potential for rapid scale-up. With added international value, the vessels will be built to accommodate the largest and heaviest monopile foundations planned on the market. Additionally, Jones Act compliant vessels will be much more flexible to offer more and better options to provide economical logistics solutions.

Offshore: what are the obstacles to operation and maintenance, and are there still solutions?

Bodman: Particularly in the US market, there is a shortage of skilled labor that will need to be developed to support offshore wind activities. Overall, this would apply to most markets except the European market. Developers can and should partner with local workforce development agencies to invest in the local economy to ensure buy-in and support. We can certainly leverage existing offshore operations and maintenance capabilities in the traditional energy space. However, in many cases, these traditional resources are not necessarily found in the same regional areas.

Offshore: How is Bleutec’s BMIS concept different or more effective than similar vessels available on the offshore market?

Bodman: Our unified fleet of vessels, Binary Marine Installation Solution (BMIS), can seamlessly install foundations and turbines simultaneously in the same development or in different locations through the coupling of a field hosting SOV [service operation vessel] capable of supporting commissioning and long-term operation and maintenance activities. The transformation system will include increased automation to improve efficiency, reduce crew requirements and improve operational safety. Battery systems and alternative fuel capability will help Bleutec respond to decarbonization initiatives and the impact of vessel footprint.

Vessel classification is under development through ABS and major OEMs [original equipment manufacturing] suppliers, including Liebherr, Wartsila and Kongsberg.

BMIS is specifically designed to cater to the cabotage markets as our vessels are more cost effective, less complex and [provide] shorter build times without compromising capacity. In fact, there is only one other vessel in the world capable of the capabilities of our piling installation vessel. This allows BMIS to be replicated outside of the US Jones Act market globally, where protectionist policies exist.

Our vessels are also versatile, which improves business financial models and helps to mitigate investment risks.

Offshore: Do you have details of any recent case studies you can share?

Bodman: Not at the moment, but we will have one very soon as we are working with our customers to highlight it.

Offshore: What do you see as the way forward for the offshore wind sector?

Bodtmann: It’s a bit clear but complex. Overall, there are significant developments in fixed and floating wind and project execution. Investment costs will have to be optimized both from the point of view of means and methods and of technological advances.

As the size of wind turbines continues to increase, the challenge will be to manage offshore construction in a safe and cost-effective approach. Bleutec has already made progress in improving the profitability and safety of fixed wind and is also strongly committed to the innovation and development of floating wind solutions.


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