UK SOV operator North Star has secured a contract with energy company EnBW to deliver a new hybrid-electric service operations vessel on a decade-long minimum charter to service the He Dreiht wind farm off the coast of Germany.
The agreement marks North Star’s first offshore wind project outside the UK market – and a key step in the company’s European growth strategy to add 40 new SOVs to its fleet by 2040.
The new-build vessel is of Vard’s 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.
Scheduled to commence long-term charter with EnBW from the end of 2025, the 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.
“He Dreiht is currently one of Europe’s largest energy transition projects and once operational, will supply green power to 1,100,000 homes,” explained North Star European renewables lead Caspar Blum. “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.”
“This vessel will be the backbone of our service and logistics operations at our He Dreiht wind farm,” added Michael Splett, global head of O&M Wind Offshore at EnBW. “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 decarbonize our industry’s operations. This perfectly aligns with EnBW’s strategy of continually optimizing the operation of its offshore wind farms through the deployment of new technologies in the field.”
The project marks the seventh new-build SOV for North Star 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 in February 2024 and February 2025 (both Vard 4 12s).
In January 2024, the organization, 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.