Damen Technical Cooperation reaches out to USA windpower
Sales manager North America
Damen Shipyards Group
The Damen Technical Cooperation (DTC) programme has been a big success in the USA since the early 2000s. The scheme enables American ship owners to access Damen’s advanced and proven designs while at the same time complying with the Jones Act that requires domestic vessels to be built within the country. The scalable nature of the programme, ranging from the simple licensing of designs right up to the provision of full materials packages including technical support, has contributed to its success, and large numbers of Damen Stan Patrol boats and a variety of tugs have been built over the years. Now Damen’s North America team has its sights on the country’s emerging offshore renewables sector.
New England takes the lead
“It’s been a while coming,” says Daan Dijxhoorn, sales manager North America, “but there’s a real sense emerging that offshore wind is building momentum. The Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode Island is still the only wind farm in operation off the coast of the USA, nearly two years after it opened but, with the Federal Government having other priorities when it comes to energy policy, a number of states are pushing ahead with their own plans.”
Massachusetts is one of the leaders, with a target of 1,600 megawatt of offshore wind energy by 2027, and its 800 megawatt Vineyard Wind project is due to start building next year. Rhode Island is another, with a goal of 1,000 megawatt by 2020, and the 400 megawatt Revolution Wind project set to start in 2022. Other New England states including New York, Maryland and New Jersey are also soliciting expressions of interest in new developments and signing commercial leases. With its cold-water oceanic climate and the winds that go with it, plus suitable offshore geology, it is the north-eastern coast of the USA that represents the low-hanging fruit of the country’s offshore wind potential.
Partnering with local yards
“With our marketing-leading range of offshore wind vessels including Fast Crew Suppliers and our Service Operations Vessel class, we are well placed to offer operators the modern, efficient vessels that they need to deliver a first-class service at an economical price,” continues Daan. “We have demonstrated over the past fifteen years that we can work alongside shipbuilders in the USA, providing them with proven designs and just the level of support that they require. We also work with them to ensure that local requirements and modifications are incorporated seamlessly into the original designs.”
This spirit of collaboration extends beyond the shipbuilding process. Damen’s team in the USA is promoting relationships between prospective operators of wind farm support vessels in the USA and their European counterparts such as Bibby Marine Services in the UK. This allows the Americans to gain first-hand insights into the sector and to learn from the experiences of seasoned operators, helping them to refine their business models ahead of making critical investment decisions.
We are also working closely with a number of shipyards in the USA so that they can have specific designs ready for the market,
Metal Shark in Louisiana is a long-standing partner of Damen and they are currently assessing our two latest Fast Crew Suppliers; the FCS 2710 and the FCS 7011, and we are in discussions with other yards further north regarding how we can support them in entering this new market.” With offshore wind being driven by the states, local content requirements are becoming a factor in the award of leases, potentially opening up a path for Damen to extend its network of partner yards into New England.
The Damen team is also working with leading brokerages including Clarksons Platou Shipping Services, based in Houston. “They work with many of the top operators in the offshore sectors,” says Daan, “and just recently they have generated two requests for information from their clients regarding our Service Operations Vessel.
“It is still early days fort the industry, but the evidence is that momentum is building driven by the states,” declares Daan. “The progress on our side of the Atlantic clearly demonstrates to the emerging US offshore wind sector that installation and operating costs are falling rapidly and that the new wind turbines now coming on stream are competitive with conventional energy sources without the need for subsidies. It won’t all be plain sailing, of course, but we are confident that exciting times for US offshore wind are not far ahead, and at Damen we plan in cooperation with our partners in the USA to be a part of that.”