Erik Bertholet, business manager logistics and offshore wind – Groningen Seaports
Only about a decade ago, Eemshaven got involved in the offshore wind sector, and now it is known as one of the hubs for offshore wind in the region. The sector has great potential.
Location is key
An effective way to generate renewable energy, offshore wind farms pose an alternative to wind farms on land or near shore farms, that face resistance because of their visibility: “not in my backyard”. Offshore farms are not only invisible from land, they also have a higher output of energy than wind farms on land or near shore, as wind speeds offshore are generally higher.
According to Erik Bertholet, business manager logistics and offshore wind at Groningen Seaports, that consists of the Eemshaven and Delfzijl seaports and adjoining industrial sites, the seas around Eemshaven are particularly suitable for offshore wind farms: “This is where the best wind blows”.
Eemshaven is conveniently located for the construction and servicing of offshore wind farms in the North Sea around The Netherlands and Germany. Not only because of its proximity to the farms, but also because of the direct access to the North Sea without sea locks or bridges. This, for example, makes it possible to directly ship a complete, pre-assembled rotor star to the farm, instead of transporting the pieces separately. The uncongested roads and ports around Eemshaven and efficient logistics ensure minimum waiting times.
Complete supply chain
There is much more to the creation and maintaining of offshore wind farms than the mere transportation to and putting together of turbines at the designated location of the wind farm. Ships have to be maintained and decked, the generated energy needs to be reconnected to the grid or stored, personnel needs a place to stay, and so on.
Eemshaven is a base and service port for the offshore wind sector. “Eemshaven offers all the facilities that the ‘travelling circus’ that is involved in the offshore wind business needs,” according to Bertholet. Service providers in all parts of the supply chain – visible and invisible – have settled in the port: from car rental companies to grid connectors, and service locations, storage possibilities, (heavy load) quays, jetties and office space are available. A heliport is currently being constructed, so that the farms can still be reached when the seas are unnavigable.
In recent years, Eemshaven has been involved in the construction of more than a dozen wind farms in the North Sea and even in the UK, such as Merkur Offshore and Gemini farms. Moreover, the maintenance of several farms is carried out from Eemshaven. Many more offshore wind projects are in the pipeline, for which Eemshaven could be a base, marshalling or service port.
A boost for the region
Groningen Seaports has given the region a boost. The reliable continuous large supply of energy to Eemshaven, for example, has attracted the data business such as Google to settle in the area.
There is still potential for offshore wind around Eemshaven. The business is on the rise, the cost of generating offshore wind energy is decreasing, and many more offshore wind projects around Eemshaven are being planned, generating opportunities for businesses that work in offshore wind or are part of the large supply chain to settle in Groningen Seaports.