The Aeolus is one of the most advanced offshore wind seejacking vessels in the world. It’s German-built, Dutch owned and operated by the Van Oord offshore enterprise.
The site marinetraffic.com offers the opportunity to follow global shipping. Just register and identify a ship of your choice and from then on you will receive email updates about events concerning that ship, like departure, arrival, berthing. Fortunately have not yet received mails reporting capsizing or sinking.
Yours faithfully has registered as well and chosen the Aeolus. The Aeolus is currently busy constructing the Belgian Norther offshore windfarm, see map below. The Aeolus picks up monopiles, towers, nacelles and rotor blades in Vlissingen, or Flushing as the town is known in Anglosphere (think “Flushing” and “Flushing Meadows tennis tournament“)
Belgian Norther windfarm
Here a summary of the most recent marinetraffic.com mails:
2019-04-21 21:52 – A new photo of AEOLUS has just been uploaded.
The photo shows the Aeolus, carrying 4 wind towers, nacelles and ditto rotor blades, leaving Flushing and heading for the Norther windpark in statu nascendi.
2019-04-21 15:30 – Departure: AEOLUS, Port: VLISSINGEN
2019-04-20 18:40 – Arrival: AEOLUS, Port: VLISSINGEN
2019-04-17 07:50 – Departure: AEOLUS, Port: VLISSING
2019-04-16 10:25 – Arrival: AEOLUS, Port: VLISSINGEN
2019-04-12 05:28 – Departure: AEOLUS, Port: VLISSINGEN
2019-04-09 20:51 – Arrival: AEOLUS, Port: VLISSINGEN
2019-04-05 13:49 – Departure: AEOLUS, Port: VLISSINGEN
etc., etc., etc.
OK, now let’s evaluate this data a little in a back-of-an-envelope calculation. The Aeolus is carrying 4 x 8.4 MW = 33.2 MW worth of nameplate wind power. Total Dutch (still largely fossil-based) power generation capacity = 29 GW. Average Dutch power consumption is 13 GW. How much time does it take for the Aeolus to install 29 GW of offshore windpower in order to complete the intended renewable energy transition?
From the list above you can conclude that the time for a full installation cycle can be 4, 5 or 7 days. Let’s say 6 days. Note that the installation of a complete wind turbines consists of 2 parts: 1. ramming a monopile into the sea bed and 2. placing the wind tower, nacelle and rotorblades on top of the monopile. In other words, it takes 2 x 6 = 12 days to install 4 wind turbines of 8.4 MW each or 33.2 MW in total.
In order to fully replace the total Dutch largely fossil-based power production of 29 GW, that would take 12 x 29,000/33.2 = 10,500 days or 29 years. Mind you, this is nameplate power and a capacity factor of 50% needs to be taken into account. That figure is however offset by the fact that in a couple of years 12-15 MW turbines will be installed, that can be handled by the same Aeolus. So we stick with 29 years. In other words, this single ship Aeolus alone is able to carry out the intended Dutch energy transition until 2050, the planned end date of said transition.
Note that this is a thought experiment. A lot of wind a solar capacity is planned to be installed onshore. On the other hand, as a rule of thumb, for a complete decarbonization of an average advanced western economy you need roughly 2 times the existing power generation capacity to keep the same standard of living, provided you replace conventional heating with heat pumps, implement thorough insulation, drive e-vehicles, etc.
The goal of the exercise is to point out that the renewable energy transition is a realistic enterprise and that the time frame of 2050 is doable.
[wikipedia.org] – MarineTraffic
[norther.be] – Norther project site
[deepresource] – The Giants of a New Energy Age
Current position Aeolus at the time of writing this post.