More than half of the projects identified for 2022-25 are located in waters deeper than 35 m, with a few crossing shore distances of 80 km. This is a result of both a pressing need - as most nearshore locations are now built-out; and growing ambitions of the industry - as power plants and capacity targets get bigger.
Deeper waters bring new challenges
Going into further and deeper waters presents significant challenges in both construction and maintenance, as it requires heavier and more powerful vessels. And while such projects are increasingly commonplace in the North Sea (the UK and Germany each boast several deep-water projects), this is still uncharted territory for developers in China.
Looking at the wind turbine installation vessel (WTIV) supply currently available in China, there are only five WTIVs now available that have a main crane capacity of 3,000 tons or above. This is an essential parameter for the installation of large wind turbine generators (WTG) and installing monopile foundations in deeper waters.
Read more: Regional Chinese governments taking on ambitious offshore wind development targets
Will relocating vessels from Europe solve the problem?
In the past few years, the Chinese market has solved its imminent supply shortages by purchasing or relocating vessels from the European markets. In 2021 alone, three WTIVs were mobilised from the North Sea into China, and another European vessel (Seajacks Scylla) was contracted for six months offshore China.
Whether the Chinese market will see an influx of foreign WTIVs in light of this imminent increase in demand remains to be seen.
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