Just as many other countries, Japan is working on increasing the sustainability of its economy. Last December, the Japanese congress passed a new law allowing construction of offshore wind farms beyond port-related areas. As a result, Japan’s development of offshore wind farms is accelerating. According to research carried out by Wood Mackenzie, Japan is expected to reach 4 GW offshore wind capacity by 2028, enough for more than 3 million households.
On 2 August 2019, GustoMSC welcomed its client Shimizu Corporation and Fukada Salvage & Marine Works from Japan for a demonstration of the working scale model of the Telescopic Leg Crane at the Hersbach test location in Schiedam.
The Telescopic Leg Crane was developed by GustoMSC to provide a solution for the demand for increased lift height and weight, associated with the developing wind-turbine market. Placed on GustoMSC’s self-elevating wind-turbine installation jack-up SC-14000XL the Telescopic Crane will provide a range of advantages over a conventional crane.
Shimizu Corporation expressed their interest in the Telescopic Leg Crane and requested GustoMSC to build a scale model (1:20) and perform tests to demonstrate the correct functionality of the telescopic boom principle. During the test program, the operating cycles were run through several times in order to be able to observe all details, such as the guiding system and the locking pins. The basic controls, control sequence and sensors were demonstrated. The unlocking, telescoping and locking actions were performed fully automatic by means of a single joystick movement controlled by the operator.
The successful test was followed by an interview with the Japanese delegation: Mr. Takeshi Sekiguchi, Executive Officer at Shimizu and owner of the SC-14000XL jack-up design. And Mr. Takashi Sakamoto, Group Manager Offshore Wind Group at Fukada and future operator of the SC-14000XL with Telescopic Leg Crane.
What is the most important innovative driver of the Japanese offshore wind energy industry?
Mr. Sekiguchi: “The Japanese government decided that electricity from renewable energy sources shall compose 22 to 24% of the total electricity supply in 2030 in accordance with Japan’s basic energy program. This means that our renewable energy supply must be increased significantly. Last December, our congress enacted a new law which accelerates offshore wind farm development. But unlike the EU, we will start with big wind turbines with an individual capacity of 8 MW. And we plan to install even larger turbines in the near future. We must be ready for future turbine capability expansion. Therefore, Shimizu decided to build the SC-14000XL.”
In the light of offshore wind turbines what geographical challenges, such as the seabed, earthquakes and deep sea have to be overcome?
“Japan’s seabed is generally steep which is different from the North Sea. Good locations for offshore windmills are limited in Japan. We have typhoons from summer to autumn, every year. We also have to deal with earthquakes and tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean. Our SEP (Self-Elevating Platform) must operate under these circumstances with high availability. The SC-14000XL is the ideal model to operate in such difficult conditions.”
According to Mr. Sakamoto, the SC-14000XL with Telescopic Crane makes a huge contribution to the efficiency in installation work: “At this moment, in Japan, we only use small jack-up vessels. With the SC-14000XL, we can operate on the Pacific Ocean side with these year-round rough conditions.”
What was the overriding reason for Shimizu to opt for the SC-14000XL design?
“We think the SC-14000XL will offer Shimizu a strong competitive edge in the upcoming wind farm construction market in Japan and Asia. Specifically, because we need to install 8 MW wind turbines and monopile foundations effectively and install 12 MW wind turbines adequately. That requires a large SEP which offers sufficient capability to operate with high availability. Also, having to use a large crane in combination with our SEP, you need to be integrated in both design and operation. The SC-14000XL with Telescopic Crane is the answer to this. The Telescopic Crane and SEP have the required installation ability for the future of the offshore wind energy industry in Japan and Asia. I think further acceptance in the industry will grow as we proceed.”
Mr. Sakamoto added to this: “Furthermore, during the transportation stage from the port to the installation site, the crane boom should be shortened, otherwise there is a risk of serious damage. However, we need a very long crane boom to install these very high offshore turbines. Here, I believe the telescopic feature of the crane is quite important to us. In Japan, we have many types of telescopic cranes. Although, for use on the ocean, I have never seen such a big telescopic crane. Actually, Fukada has operated with many different type of cranes having a maximum capacity of more than 3,000 tons. However, these are fixed crane types, so this telescopic concept is completely unique.”
Fukada is the first to work with the Telescopic Crane, do you expect that more installation jack-ups will be equipped with the Telescopic Crane?
Mr. Sakamoto: “We hope more installation jack-ups will be equipped with the Telescopic Crane. However, it is not going to be easy for other contractors to have such a special crane since Shimizu was interested in this jack-up and crane way in advance. It requires a lot of preparation and development time.”
How did the collaboration with GustoMSC proceed, why did you choose this design?
Mr. Sekiguchi: “This is the first time we are building a SEP. Therefore, we preferred to work with GustoMSC, a company that has a good track record. GustoMSC answered many questions sincerely and met all our demands. As a result, we succeeded in having a basic design and a shipbuilding contract within our time schedule.”
Mr. Sakamoto: “In Japan we have several shipbuilders, however they have no experience in special purpose vessels including a jack-up vessel for building offshore wind turbines. We only spent one year to prepare the shipbuilding contract in order to start. So in this case, without a specialized partner like GustoMSC, it would be impossible to start in such a short time.”
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