Monday, January 10, 2011

Offshore Wind Farms are expensive to reach

Now that we are endowed with offshore wind farms as a source of energy generation, it would seem logical to look at the cost to access and repair the remote structures involved. It is a curiosity that we do this using the same old fuel hungry ships we have used for many years. How much of the 'free' energy produced by the wind farm is offset by the service fleet required to install and maintain the offshore towers? We may have cleaned up the exhausts and other emmissions but the workboat hull forms we use are still relatively inefficient when compared to say bulk carriers on long passages. The latest trendy catamarans may appear to be good working platforms but they are really no more economic than a monohull when it comes to fuel efficiency.

OK, so here comes the plug. Let us look at the surface effect ship for this application. There is a lot of experience using this type of craft for offshore service work especially in the Gulf of Mexico and other oil fields. Low resistance makes these craft very fuel efficient (40% better then a monohull) and the twin hulls are a superb working platform. We are not looking for big loads to carry or long ranges and bad weather makes offshore structures inaccessible to monohulls and catamarans just as much as any other vessel. So come on let's look at the whole picture when it comes to cheap energy and consider the boats we use. Diesel won't be getting any cheaper in the future, so contact a naval architect with experience in the design, construction and operation of surface effect ships for the real numbers on through life cost reductions.


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