U.S. Startup Proposes "Light" WTIV Variant for Jones Act Market

wtiv light
Bleutec's "WTIV-Light" turbine installation vessel (NETSCo / Bleutec)

Published Jul 5, 2022 9:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

Bleutec Industries, an American startup based in Texas, is launching a new effort to create a new form of Jones Act-compliant wind turbine installation. 

Only one U.S.-built wind turbine installation vessel (WTIV) is on order today. Since this will not be enough to meet demand, many developers are considering a hybrid solution: a U.S.-built feeder vessel plus foreign-built WTIV combination. If the wrinkles could be worked out, this would satisfy U.S. compliance requirements - without building more $450 million WTIVs in the United States. 

But this hybrid solution is controversial in some sectors of the U.S. maritime industry, and it depends on a supply of foreign-flag WTIVs. That supply is also limited - especially for larger vessels capable of installing modern turbines - and these expensive, high-spec ships are in high demand worldwide. 

Bleutec’s proprietary Binary Marine Installation Solution (BMIS) would provide an alternative for heavy lift vessels in the offshore wind industry, and its end goal is a sector in which "very costly, highly specialized WTIVs are no longer required," the company says. 

The BMIS concept includes two construction vessels - a gantry-equipped "Piling Installation Vessel" for super-heavy monopiles (below) and a "WTIV-Light" reduced-cost crane ship (image at top) - plus a standard-issue SOV for accommodations for the commissioning crew. 

The unique overhead gantry-based piling installation vessel (Bleutec / Penthus)

“The US offshore wind industry has been paralyzed by the perceived notion that a WTIV has to be constructed in a certain way and that is not feasible. NETSCo Engineers have been devoted to designing a bespoke WTIV, focusing on the design parameters that matter most and eliminating the nice to haves," said Jan Flores, principal at naval architecture firm NETSCo, which is working with Bleutec. 

Bleutec has secured a working partnership with Dutch heavy-lift operator Penthus, which will provide experience in the sector. It has also hired on Shell's former global category manager for marine, Bo Jardine, to lead its commercialization effort. The company says that a who's-who of marine engineering and equipment manufacturing firms have been consulted on the project.

“Our goal is to provide the most cost-effective offshore wind T&I solution that integrates commissioning, operations and maintenance activities and maximizes local content," said Robin Bodtmann, CEO of Bleutec Industries, in a statement Monday.