Exploring New Possibilities – Developing Ports and Harbours to support offshore renewables.

As the focus on offshore energy continues to shift from oil and gas to renewables activity, energy companies face increasing challenges in the logistics and supply chain to both identify and develop locations suitable for the support of their offshore renewable projects.

Many of Europe’s traditional energy ports are located and were developed to be geographically closest to the offshore oil and gas assets they were created to support. 

Many of these locations have been steadily developed over the last 40 years of offshore oil and gas and their infrastructure is solidified by a network of service providers, logistics companies and the personnel that support them.

With the advent of offshore renewable generation, and the government licensing rounds opening up new and unexplored offshore territories for development, many of these well-established ports now find themselves a considerable distance from the site of major offshore renewables development.

The closest point to land may now only be served by facilities developed for more traditional roles such as fishing or leisure. In some cases, there may be no port nearby at all – a real challenge when the focus is to ensure that the end project is delivered in a way which minimises both the carbon footprint and ultimately overall cost. 

Seacroft Marine Consultants has been active in the ports and harbours sector for many years, initially providing Designated Person, Port Marine Safety Code Compliance services and Hazard Identification & Risk Assessment (HAZID/HIRA).  This has further grown into long term, multi-year partnerships with some of the UK’s largest port groups.

Our team of experienced mariners, HSE and project logistics professionals have been assisting our ports clients in ensuring that their facilities are safe and compliant with both legal and industry standards.

Assisting our offshore renewables clients has also seen our team deployed to multiple port locations in the UK and Europe to assess how the onshore infrastructure could be best developed to support their offshore renewables activity.

This can include assessing how an existing port might be developed to suit the end client needs, how a decommissioned facility could be brought back to life, or indeed how an entirely new terminal or port facility could be constructed to best suit Transport & Installation (T&I) or Operations & Maintenance (O&M) of a whole new offshore wind development.

Considerations include how the local area can support the logistics and supply chain, environmental assessments and impact studies as well as the potential for benefits to the local economy.

When looking at a port facility we are considering not just the marine aspects, which are of course vital, but also how the surrounding area and the businesses and services located there could be brought in to help make the end project a success. An assessment can include the more traditional areas like assessment of the laydown facilities available, but also other factors such as how the transport and road infrastructure could cope with the influx of people and materials.  

Supported by the UK government, these developments in many cases offer the opportunity for a massive economic boost to communities, which may have not previously seen the potential of the facilities on their doorstep.

Our experience working with both the port facilities and clients who want to develop them allows us to offer a unique perspective, backed with years of practical marine and project management to provide industry leading guidance in the next steps towards offshore renewable energy.