Breath of fresh air
Ballast Nedam is one of the premier names in the installation of offshore wind farms in Europe.
The company is one of Europe’s leading construction and infrastructure organisations with a long and successful track record in the construction of buildings, bridges and offshore marine installations. In recent years the company has earned a reputation in the construction and installation of offshore wind farm projects such as the development of the Egmond aan Zee field in the Netherlands, and has recently been contracted to install 21 turbine foundations for the Baltic I wind farm – a new development off the coast of Germany.
Speaking to European Oil & Gas’ sister magazine Construction Today Europe in January this year, Dolf Elsevier van Griethuysen, project director at Ballast Nedam, elaborated on the company’s history, and its participation in offshore wind farm developments: “Ballast Nedam has two main business areas – building construction, which includes housing offices and shopping centres; and infrastructure, which undertakes roads, bridges, tunnels and wind parks. One of our main strengths is that we have had a long tradition in building famous bridges around the world.
“In addition to this, the offshore wind market is a niche area for us,” he explained. “We are a construction firm active in the infrastructure and building areas – this is our core business, which continues to be a very promising areas for us, but Ballast Nedam is an extremely innovative company that is constantly looking for new areas to venture into. We have a small research and development team, which continually explores the market and enables us to develop solutions that meet our clients’ challenging needs.”
Upon the completion of a number of recent projects, the company is one step closer to fulfilling its ambition of being one of the key players in the European offshore wind energy market. During the 1990s the business constructed two offshore wind farms in the Dutch IJsselmeer, projects that stimulated further investment and research into the offshore sector. Much of this development work was completed in collaboration with Vestas, one of the leading manufacturers of wind turbine technology, and a company that Ballast Nedam still co-operates closely with. The subsequent years have seen the business combine a high level of dynamical design knowledge with the equipment, skills and technical capacity needed to complete many key offshore wind projects.
The most prominent of these in recent years has been the development of the offshore wind farm at Egmond aan Zee, in the Netherlands. Consisting of 36 wind turbines, each 115 metres tall and 70 metres above sea level, the Egmond aan Zee wind farm is a result of the Dutch government looking to develop innovative and improved methods of generating renewable energy for the future. The turbines create approximately 100 megawatts, which represents enough energy to power roughly 100,000 households and 300,000 residents.
Ballast Nedam used its considerable expertise to carry out the fixing of the foundation piles and the installation of the vital transition pieces. To complete the work, the company’s specialist heavy lift vessel – the Svanen – was considerably modified, including the installation of a unique crane featuring an innovative hoist pulley capable of carrying out the horizontal movement of foundation piles. This work represented the very first time that such piles over four metres wide and weighing close to 270 tonnes, have ever been driven from a floating platform.
Most recently the company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with wpd – a German project developer of offshore wind farms – for the design, supply and installation of 21 foundations that will eventually form a key part of the Baltic I offshore wind farm located off the coast of Germany. The project, which is due to commence in the first quarter of 2009, will involve the Svanen undertaking similar duties as in the Egmond aan Zee development, installing the foundations for the wind turbines.
Aside from offshore installation projects Ballast Nedan’s traditional roots lie in infrastructure and construction work, and in this area the company is continuing to excel. In May this year it was contracted by the Directorate General for Public Works and Water Management in the Netherlands to carry out a 100 million euro motorway reconstruction project. The operation consists of resurfacing a 12-kilometre stretch of carriageway between Zoetermeer and Gouda, adding extra lanes to accommodate congestion, and renovating an existing junction near Bleiswijk. In addition, an extra junction is to be constructed to replace the existing ones at Zevenhuizen and Waddinxveen. Ballast Nedam’s experience in such projects means that the business is capable of undertaking the entire development in-house, a job that is estimated to take roughly two years.
The completion of these new projects will only serve to strengthen the already excellent reputation of Ballast Nedam in the market. Considering the future, it is clear that Dolf is confident the company will continue to grow: “Being at the forefront of the market is very important to us. In the construction market, when you have invented something new it is visible for everyone to see. Therefore, our main aim is to remain innovative because we always want our next step to provide better solutions than any other company on the market.”
Products Offshore wind farms