Going to work from the Port of IJmuiden: how is the new O&M hub getting along?

For the operation and maintenance of the Hollandse Kust Zuid Wind Farm, Vattenfall will operate from a new operations and maintenance hub in the Port of IJmuiden. We previously wrote about the collaboration with Zeehaven IJmuiden N.V. in a conversation with AYOP. Now we take a closer look: what is the status of the construction of the maintenance hub and what will Vattenfall use this location for?

Preparations for the construction of the Hollandse Kust Zuid Wind Farm are in full swing, and installation works at sea will start this summer. As soon as the first turbines are up and running, they will be operated and maintained from the new operations and maintenance (O&M) hub in the Port of IJmuiden. Vattenfall plans to receive the key to the new hub in January 2022. Over the past years, Vattenfall and Zeehaven IJmuiden N.V. (Port of IJmuiden) have been collaborating to find a suitable location and prepare for construction.

Wouter Jonker oversees the development of the maintenance hub on behalf of Vattenfall: “For the next 25 years, we will rent the hub from a real estate company in which Zeehaven IJmuiden N.V. participates. This real estate company has contracted the building company and coordinates the construction activities. The hub is built according to our specific wishes, as sustainable and self-sufficient as possible. For example, there will be solar panels on the roof and charging stations for electric vehicles.”

The Port of IJmuiden is pleased with the arrival of Vattenfall. Peter van de Meerakker, Managing Director: “At the head of the IJmondhaven, we are realizing a special state of the art jetty with boat landings for the transport of staff and equipment to Hollandse Kust Zuid. These facilities and Vattenfall coming to the Port will strengthen the existing offshore wind cluster in the IJmondhaven. With this location, all offshore wind farms off the coast of South and North Holland will soon be maintained from the Port of IJmuiden.”

Construction has started

At the beginning of last year, Vattenfall and the Port of IJmuiden started discussing the requirements of the hub. In March 2021, contractor Friso Bouwgroep started building the foundations for the O&M hub. “The building consists of a large warehouse, office space and facilities for the maintenance technicians who sail daily to and from the wind farm, such as showers and changing rooms. The storage space measures over 600 m2 and the office space approximately 450 m2. A jetty with cranes and space for three boats will be placed right next to the building to bring the technicians and their equipment to and from the wind farm.”

About 25 staff will soon be working at the office. This includes the site manager and operations and maintenance managers, team leads, a shipping coordinator, safety managers and support staff. In addition, there is space for up to 40 maintenance technicians, depending on the season. There will be a lot of employment opportunities, with most of the future staff still to be recruited. “The maintenance technicians arrive at the O&M hub in the morning,” explains Wouter. “They then receive a briefing about the day’s activities, put on their work clothes and board the boat from IJmuiden to the wind farm to carry out planned and unplanned maintenance on the turbines. They then return to the hub late in the afternoon for a debrief.”

Maintenance of the wind farm is of course essential, but the aim is to keep required maintenance as limited as possible and to be able to plan everything properly, says Wouter. “We are constantly connected to the turbines via subsea cables and an antenna that will be built next to the hub. We keep a close eye on everything, so that we can prevent any surprises and intervene quickly if necessary. The entire operation is very high-tech.”

Ambitions to grow

The arrival of Hollandse Kust Zuid and other offshore wind farms brings a lot of activities to the port and creates opportunities for Zeehaven IJmuiden N.V. It is not surprising, therefore, that the port has ambitions to grow in offshore. “Thanks to the favourable geographic location of our port, the broad base of existing, specialized companies and a proven track record in offshore activities and our experience with the three existing wind farms, a solid growth in offshore wind activities lies in store for us. With this in mind, we are working closely with different parties to expand on the north side of the IJmondhaven with the Energiehaven”, says Peter van de Meerakker.

Temporary location to supervise the construction of a wind farm

Directly next to the O&M hub that is now under construction, a temporary location will be realized in the coming months for the Vattenfall team that will supervise the construction of the wind farm. The location consists of temporary office units and a warehouse. From June onwards, the first Vattenfall employees will work from IJmuiden and use the new jetty to travel to and from the wind farm during the construction works.

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About Vattenfall

Vattenfall generates and supplies electricity, heating, cooling and gas as well as offering customers a variety of sustainable solutions. Vattenfall want to achieve fossil-free energy generation within one generation. This Swedish energy company is investing heavily in wind energy to achieve this aim. We are working towards a sustainable world, for now and in the future.