The Eco Edison is Making Waves in Louisiana
In Louisiana, a major builder of vessels for the oil industry is building a ship you wouldn’t expect. The Eco Edison will serve the offshore wind industry and is the first of its kind.
On April 3, Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO) shared photos of the progress they have made constructing the Eco Edison, a Service Operation Vessel (SOV). This ship will be the first U.S. Jones Act Compliant wind farm SOV. The act requires ships transporting good between U.S. ports to be built, owned, and operated under the US flag.
The SOV engineered, constructed, and operated by ECO will be essential for the operation and maintenance of three offshore wind farms in the Northeast. The Revolution Wind, South Fork Wind, and Sunrise Wind farms will be jointly operated by Ørsted and Eversource. Ørsted, a green energy company, and Eversource, a residential energy provider in New England, entered into a long-term charter with ECO for the SOV and a 50/50 agreement to operate the wind assets in the Northeast. These three wind farms are expected to generate 1.7 gigawatts of energy which will power over a million homes.
What is a Service Operation Vessel?
SOV’s are intended to serve as infield accommodations for crew and platform assist for wind turbine maintenance.
The Eco Edison will be 260 feet long and have the capacity to accommodate around 60 passengers. The ship will house offshore wind technicians and include staterooms with private bathrooms, an exercise room, a cinema and training room, an internet café, and multiple lounges for workers to use. The area beneath the deck will function as a warehouse to store spare parts, tools, wind turbine components, and other supplies needed to maintain and repair wind turbines.
The ship will be equipped with a daughter craft to transport technicians between the SOV where they live and the wind turbines where they will perform routine and corrective maintenance. The ship will also be furnished with a hydraulic height-compensating landing platform for infield turbine repair. It will operate out of Port Jefferson in Long Island, New York upon completion in 2024.
How is the Vessel Powered?
The SOV power and propulsion system will operate on diesel electric and be powered by four Caterpillar 3512E Tier 4 generator sets each rated for 1700ekW. These generator sets are configured for variable speed operation which will allow for minimized exhaust emissions and enhanced efficiency. The GE Power Conversion electrical system onboard can operate with generator sets or stored energy. And the newest Voith Schneider Propellers (VSPs) will be utilized for propulsion by integrated permanent magnet motors. The propellers will have a quick response time, making it easier to steer and thrust forward, yet there will be minimal noise and vibration. While the ship isn’t running on green energy yet, it is being constructed to incorporate future zero-carbon emission technology to help the push towards carbon neutrality.
Impact on Louisiana
The project has utilized more than 400 Edison Chouest Offshore workers and created over 300 new construction jobs in Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana. It is expected to have an even broader impact as suppliers of steel and engines are in various states.
Industries located in the Gulf region may see a shift from oil to wind in the coming years, as there are many highly transferrable skills and companies have already exhibited their willingness to support renewable energy efforts. While this is cause for concern as a reduction in oil production could harm the state’s economy, the state is looking toward the future and trying to find its role in helping the offshore wind industry take off.
Several weeks ago, Louisiana Governor, John Bel Edwards announced Shell is set to invest $10 million in Gulf Wind Technology, a New Orleans based company, to develop turbine components designed to operate in the gulf. Ørsted and Eversource will also invest millions in shipbuilding across the gulf coast as other offshore developers are racing to invest billions in specialized vessels. The CEO of American Clean Power Association believes the Gulf region will become the “economic engine” of the offshore wind industry due to its highly skilled workforce and ability to maintain machinery even in the salt water and marine environment.
The Eco Edison is the first wind farm SOV to be manufactured in compliance with the Jones Act for operation within the United States but considering the recent push towards clean energy it can be expected there will be many more ships constructed in the coming years. These ships will offer the highest level of comfort to crew and be critical in accessing and maintaining offshore wind turbines.
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