Netherlands-based GustoMSC and Barge Master have joined forces to develop a Jones Act-compliant feeder barge system for offshore wind energy projects in the USA.
The USA’s offshore wind energy sector is on the cusp of a huge upturn. Last week, Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners were selected to develop what will be the country’s largest offshore wind farm – an 800 MW development off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Meanwhile, Rhode Island gave the green light to develop the 400 MW Deepwater Wind project.
A longstanding barrier to the development of the USA’s offshore wind energy sector is the lack of available US-flagged jack up installation vessels. These installation vessels will need to be sourced from the European market. However, Jones Act restrictions mean that these non-US-flagged vessels cannot enter US ports to collect cargoes and install them in US waters.
The feeder system developed by GustoMSC and Barge Master enables turbine components to be shuttled offshore using a BM-T1700 motion-compensated platform aboard a US-flagged offshore vessel of seagoing barge. A non-US-flagged jack up installation vessel can wait offshore ready to perform installation works.
Barge Master’s motion-compensated platform creates a stable base from which turbine components weighing up to 700 tonnes can be lifted. GustoMSC will perform the naval engineering and the integration of the BM-T700 platform onto a new or existing DPII feeder barge.
GustoMSC said it sees sufficient potential for larger purpose-built Jones Act-compliant installation jack ups to cope with the expected increase in turbine size, weights and hub heights. However, the company claims its feeder barge system “is a solid solution for the first wave of US projects”.