Types and functions of offshore ports
Offshore ports can be classified into three main categories, independent of their offshore wind energy functions:
- Large component ports (production ports with manufacturing facilities, installation and base ports for pre-assembly, import and export ports for transshipment, ports of refuge)
- Ports for servicing and maintenance (bases for servicing, maintenance and repair purposes)
- Research ports (ports with areas for offshore prototypes and test turbines, training and instruction facilities)
Offshore ports in Europe - North Sea
The ports of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea represent a key strategic gateway for the erection of wind farms in European waters. In light of the large size of offshore wind turbines and components and the transport problems associated with them on land, ports are also important production sites. In this regard, ports – particularly those with sufficient supply of surface area for production halls, storage, assembly and loading areas - are well-placed to meet the requirements of offshore wind industry companies looking for a base. It is also important that the port is well-connected to the hinterland by means of an efficient transport infrastructure (roads, rail, waterways where applicable). Another qualifying criterion for offshore ports is that they are fitted with suitable infrastructure facilities such as loading cranes, as well as equipment for loading and delivery of wind turbine components or raw materials.
However, offshore ports are not merely locations for production and shipping of offshore wind turbines and components; they can also be used as a base for execution of erection, service and maintenance works. The availability of surface area and facilities for helicopters and vessel deployment, in order to be able to transport personnel to the offshore wind farms quickly, is therefore a relevant factor. Ports also function as moorings for various specialist offshore vessels.
Some offshore ports cooperate with each other. In this way, synergies can be leveraged and a wide range of functions and offshore industry requirements can be offered more cost-effectively and centrally from a single source.