UK ports unlikely to serve Round 3 projects

Poor facilities and inadequate size are key limitations

UK ports will miss out on many of the opportunities offered by the imminent construction of Round 3 projects because they are too small and inadequately equipped, a leading offshore wind vessels operator has warned.

Dutch ports are likely to be used instead, said Martin Huss, chief sales officer for A2Sea. Huss was  speaking at Windpower Events’ future foundations forum in London yesterday,

"UK ports are old and privately owned, which means there hasn’t been enough investment to bring them up to the level needed," he said. "They all have plans, but nobody’s pushing to see them through."

A notable exception is Belfast, which last month handed over an offshore wind-dedicated terminal to Dong Energy and ScottishPower Renewables. "This is a model I would like to see elsewhere in the UK," said Huss. Investment at Belfast was funded by the port itself, Windpower Offshore understands.

Building multi-megawatt offshore wind projects requires vast docks that can host large numbers of bulky components, alongside deepwater quays and waterways able to accommodate large vessels.

Even larger vessels are going to be needed in future, added Huss. A2Sea has struck a partnership with shipping company Teekay to convert some of its Norwegian tankers into dedicated offshore wind vessels.

A2Sea's plans to convert a 246m tanker into a new installation vessel are well advanced, according to Huss. "We just need a firm commitment of one year’s worth of work," he said. "We’re ready to push the button in 2013, which means the new vessel would be available in 2016."

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