New Horizons for the original dutch windfarm manufacturer

Jan de Vries, Business Developer Offshore Ballast Nedam

Renewed strategy has given Ballast Nedam second wind. As they build a new philosophy on retained skills.

The impact Ballast Nedam has had on offshore wind energy, both nationally and in Europe, should not be underplayed. In 1993 they were the first to build an offshore windfarm in the Netherlands (Windfarm Lely) and since have developed a European track record of 18% the installed monopile foundations. This is comprised of over 550 monopile installations and 150 gravity based foundations.

The route to this impressive track record hasn’t been entirely smooth, but the expertise within this newly streamlined organization has shown it can navigate the choppiest of seas. Following a brief withdrawal from offshore activites at the end of  2014, the company returned as part of the Turkish owned ‘Rönesans Group’ with a new look, philosophy and tremendous potential.

Developing a New Philosophy

The Netherlands-based construction company re-entered the wind energy market with Ballast Nedam Renewables in 2017 with an aim to use knowledge and expertise internationally for onshore wind, offshore wind and solar parks. “We have kept the experience and capabilities of the past but we are now acting without our own vessel, that makes us as organization more flexible.” says de Vries.

Previously the organization operated with the heavy lift installation vessel Svanen for monopile installations, but needed to sell their vessel to Van Oord. De Vries believes that the strategy has put the clients goals first when addressing a project and has distinguished them in the market. In every Tender we have done sofar this has been the case. The first contracts are already there, due to the fact we found the best solution.

“Now we are looking for the best project solution, because if you own a vessel you have to utilize it in the market, you are primarily selling your vessel to the client,” says de Vries.

“The benefit if you don’t have your own vessel but you have access to commercial vessels on the market then you can use the best vessel for the project.  Now we are selling our project skills ans solutions to the client.”Strategise for success

If a company does not permanently own it’s own vessel, costs for day rental can sky-rocket and make certain projects untenanble. This is where de Vries and his team narrowed their focus and specialized their approach. “We are very selective in the tender process and apply full focus on one project. We do not run 4 tenders simultaneously – one project get’s our whole attention,” says de Vries. The projects chosen are niche projects which they investigate prior to going to market – contacting the client directly requesting notification. The team gives the task full focus with a young team and a flexible approach.

“You are not fixed or solely responsible with a box of challenges or requirements…you can extend beyond your own expectations. With a young and experienced team we have an out of the box mindset with a down to earth approach  to get work the work done on challenging projects,” says de Vries.

A promising future

The risk profile and financial needs for offshore construction is quite high so the financial backing from the  Rönesans Group is a massive opportunity for support and expansion.  De Vries is emphatic about the future of the organization and the development of gravity based foundations for offshore wind industry.

We are not here to say we are the biggest player but we are  rival player. ” Says de Vries. As Ballast Nedam continues to make strides in offshore wind manufacturing and international waters, they are fast becoming contenders.

Butendiek: A multi-vessell full floating installation

The Butendiek offshore windpark project was one of the most ambitious installations to date for Ballast Nedam. The in-house design took place in 2013 with a rapid installation of all 80 foundations in just five months. This project was successfully finalized with the last campaign in 2017.

During the installation a noise mitigation screen was also used to prevent noise impact during pile driving. At a water depth of between 17 and 22 metres, with notoriously heavey weather, this was a ‘special project’ and is still ‘the fastest installation for a floating combination in the German Bight’.

‘It’s a fantastic example of how we can manage multiple vessels in a fully floating installation set-up. To successfully execute this project under the conditions proves we are more than capable to nail these projects… this is the way the industry is heading.’ says de Vries.