North Star has secured a contract with energy utility giant EnBW to deliver a new hybrid-electric service operations vessel (SOV) on a decade-long minimum charter to service the He Dreiht wind farm off the coast of Germany.
The agreement marks the firm’s first offshore wind win outside the UK market, a milestone step in its ambitious European growth strategy to add 40 new SOVs to its fleet by 2040.
The newbuild is of VARD 407 design which has been tailored to meet EnBW’s specific requirements. To drive high performance and efficiencies, the high specification vessel includes Voith Schneider eVSP propulsion and is prepared for the use of methanol as a fuel. The ship is also fully equipped with a height adjustable motion compensated gangway and 3D compensated crane. In addition, it utilises the best available technology to support decarbonisation, including North Star’s Decision Support system.
Scheduled to commence long-term charter with EnBW from the end of next year, the walk-to-work vessel will provide premier accommodation in field for up to 34 wind technicians as they maintain the development’s 64 wind turbines, located around 90km northwest of the island of Borkum and 110km west of Helgoland. The SOV will also act as a logistics hub and warehouse.
North Star European renewables lead Caspar Blum said: “He Dreiht is currently one of Europe’s largest energy transition projects and once operational, will supply green power to 1.1million homes. Following the highly regulated EU tendering process, we are thrilled to be selected by EnBW as part of their maintenance solution to ensure once completed, the wind farm remains consistently operational and generating renewable electricity.
“Penetrating the European offshore wind sector so promptly after establishing our presence in Hamburg last summer, is testament to our service-led approach and passion to deliver SOVs which easily integrate into wind farm operations and O&M strategies.
“With high operability a key component to providing fast, safe and efficient personnel transfers, we worked closely with EnBW and our partners VARD to develop a robust and superior SOV to mitigate sea state and wave height challenges.”
Blum added: “The comfort of wind technicians and crew on board was also priority, with exceptional accommodation and facilities built in to aid health and wellbeing during long stays while in field. Ample warehouse space with side-loading access for simplified equipment transfers was also determined, ensuring we are adding another high-performance newbuildto our growing hybrid offshore wind fleet.”
Michael Splett, Global Head of O&M Wind Offshore at EnBW. “This vessel will be the backbone of our service and logistics operations at our He Dreiht wind farm. Working with North Star, we were able to specify its setup to ideally meet the requirements of our operations teams. Its innovative, methanol-based propulsion system helps us to further decarbonise our industry’s operations. This perfectly aligns with EnBW’s strategy of continually optimising the operation of its offshore wind farms through the deployment of new technologies in the field.”
This new win for North Star marks the seventh newbuild SOV for the company since entering the renewables market in 2021. Its first two SOVs (VARD 4 12 and VARD 4 19 designs), The Grampian Tyne and Grampian Derwent, were delivered ahead of schedule last year, with a further two ships for the same UK North Sea client on track for delivery next month (Feb) and February 2025 (both VARD 4 12s).
Earlier this month (Jan), the organisation, which has a workforce of approximately 1,400 onshore and offshore personnel, cut first steel on its second hybrid commissioning SOV (CSOV). Both are of VARD 4 22 design and have been commissioned by North Star to support Europe’s evolving demand for O&M work.