July 22 - W3G Marine (W3GM) and IHC Merwede have agreed to collaborate on the development of W3GM's patented design for an offshore wind turbine installation ship (OWTIS)

The two companies say that the OWTIS (seen below) concept has major advantages over existing assets, not least in its ability to improve offshore safety by necessitating fewer tasks to be performed offshore. 

They also claim that it is environmentally friendly - as it has no contact with the seabed - and able to operate in harsh weather and deploy large loads, adding that the OWTIS concept is not limited by water depth and is readily transferable to the oil and gas heavy lift market. 

The purpose-designed OWTIS will be equipped with a unique 1,500 tonne crane, which when used in conjunction with the patented lift system, will enable fully assembled wind turbines to be installed in one lift onto pre-installed foundations. The partners predict that the new ship will reduce the cost of installing offshore wind turbines (and foundations) by at least one third compared tocurrent methods. 

W3GM and IHC Merwede are committed to completing the engineering design phase by the end of November 2011. This will allow a vessel to be delivered by the end of 2013, making it available for the 2014 season. 

IHC Merwede's president Govert Hamers says, "This vessel will set a new standard for productivity in the offshore wind turbine installation market and is an example of the cooperation between W3GM's design and IHC Merwede's integrated service teams. This will provide the platform to develop a world- beating offshore construction asset." 

W3GM's CEO Alan West adds: "The OWTIS developed by W3G Marine will bring an industry changing initiative to the way offshore wind turbines are installed. This will be achieved through the application of innovative design and operational expertise to significantly improve safety, minimise environmental impact, work in harsher weather and deeper waters, and reduce installation costs by at least one third." 

IHC Merwede and W3GM expect that OWTIS will be the first of a series of vessels to enable the burgeoning offshore wind industry to meet the economic targets for round three of offshore wind farm development in the UK and other similar projects in Europe.