HAMBURG SHIPBROKERS FOCUS ON MEETING THE REQUIREMENTS OF OFFSHORE WIND PROJECTS
The market for renewable energy in Europe is increasingly characterised by offshore turbines that harness the power of the wind. About two years ago, two young shipbrokers from Hamburg saw their chance and, under the name German Renewables Shipbrokers (GRS), began supplying specialist vessels for offshore wind projects.
According to the recent "Wind in power" report from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), 2012 was a record year for the European offshore wind industry. A total of 1,166 megawatts was newly installed in European waters last year, an increase of 292 megawatts compared to 2011. By 2020, wind farms in Europe are expected to supply about 44 gigawatts of electricity.
Demand for specialist vessels expected to rise
In order to reach this ambitious EU target, the necessary number of offshore wind turbines must be constructed soon. It is now especially up to the shipping and shipbuilding industry to design specialist ships as well as to make sufficient tonnage available. And here is where the experts at German Renewables Shipbrokers come into play, since "each offshore project requires the exact vessels that are right for the job, both for turbine construction as well as for ongoing operation", explains Philippe Schönefeld, who, along with fellow engineer Matthias Mross, is one of the company's managing directors.
Checking availability and securing tonnage
Schönefeld currently sees a bottleneck for service vessels available to wind farms during installation and, later, operation. “We currently have roundabout 25 of these vessels not including tugboats in the German market. Just one wind farm keeps 20 to 30 of these service vessels busy for a year. We therefore urgently recommend securing tonnage required at an early stage. Time frames for service boats are at least one year in advance and installation ships at least two years before starting construction.” At the same time, Mross points out, it is becoming more complicated for charterers to secure crew transfer vessels (CTVs). To help with this issue, the team has an updated database so that they can check within hours what ship can be chartered where and at what price. Short charter periods and the fact that standardised ships cannot be used in the offshore business mean that charterers are increasingly turning to shipbroking specialists.
A unique combination of services
Schönefeld and Mross want their company to provide their customers with expertise from two worlds. On the one hand, they are shipbrokers with contacts in the international offshore shipping industry. On the other, they have extensive knowledge of the technical aspects. Mross emphasises that the company is unique in offering such a combination, adding, "Not only are we optimally positioned to bring ship owners together with buyers and potential charterers, we also understand the specific concerns of offshore energy generation and can therefore support companies with our shipping expertise in the best possible way." The core services offered by the seven members of the GRS team include consulting, preparing charter and sales contracts and providing assistance beforehand, during the contract process and after a contract has been signed. In addition, brokerage and consulting services are provided for many situations, including newbuilding, conversion and complete ship management of vessels built especially for offshore.
Source: Sonderbeilage Offshore | THB Deutsche Schiffahrts-Zeitung No 57 | 21.03.2013