Siemens and Esvagt christen offshore wind industry’s first SOV vessels

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Siemens has celebrated the official christenings of the offshore wind industry’s very first, purpose-built Service Operation Vessels (SOV). The christening events took place in cooperation with Esvagt A/S, owner of the two vessels, in Rostock, Germany, and Hamburg, Germany. 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.

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

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Chartered by Siemens and designed in close collaboration with Siemens’ Maritime and Aviation Solutions department, the SOVs are revolutionizing offshore wind service by increasing productivity, accelerating response times, and implementing advanced safety mechanisms that will allow wind turbine access in significant wave heights of up to 2.5 m, 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.

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One of the cornerstones of this approach is Siemens’ advanced remote diagnostics and monitoring, which can remotely solve up to 85% 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 SOVs near the offshore 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, 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 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 SOVs 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.