Empire Wind picks ECO to provide plug-in hybrid SOV

Written by Nick Blenkey
plug-in hybrid Chouest SOV

Rendering of the Empire Wind service operations vessel, the first plug-in hybrid SOV for the U.S. offshore wind market. [Image: Edison Chouest Offshore]

Empire Offshore Wind, a joint venture between Equinor and BP, has reached a long-term charter agreement that will see Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO) provide a plug-in hybrid service operations vessel (SOV) for the Empire Wind 1 and Empire Wind 2 offshore wind farms. The charter agreement has a fixed period of 10 years, with commencement in the mid-2020s.

The SOV will be the first in the U.S. offshore wind sector capable of sailing partly on battery power and, indeed, is only the second U.S.-flag SOV to be announced. Edison Chouest will also deliver the first, the ECO Edison, which is currently under construction at ECO shipyards located in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. That vessel is set for delivery in 2024 and will then immediately provide operational support out of Port Jefferson, New York, for Ørsted and Eversource’s joint venture offshore wind portfolio.

The plug-in hybrid SOV that Chouest will operate for Empire Wind will accommodate up to 60 wind turbine technicians. It will be Jones Act compliant and have its home port at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT) in New York. The SOV will be constructed with components from ECO’s extensive supplier base across 34 U.S, states. Chouest estimates that this will generate over 250 high-skilled U.S. jobs during vessel construction. The company is also dedicating considerable effort and resources to recruiting and training vessel crew from the New York region and will operate the vessel from its New York office.

The plug-in hybrid vessel will be the first in the U.S. capable of sailing on battery power for portions of the route. The SOV will sail into the port of SBMT on battery power, recharge the battery using shore power and sail out of New York Harbor. The hybrid vessel will be certified to Tier 4 emissions standards.

“Equinor and BP’s agreement with Edison Chouest will generate ripple effects throughout the supply chain, creating jobs in numerous states across the country” says Teddy Muhlfelder, vice president, Empire Wind and Beacon Wind, Equinor. “With the first of its kind, plug-in hybrid service operations vessel, Empire Wind will reduce potential emissions from our operations in the New York City area. This is another critical step forward in the development of the offshore wind industry, while helping achieve critical state and federal climate goals.”

“Edison Chouest Offshore will provide a state-of-the-art vessel fit for Empire Wind. We selected Edison Chouest in part for its extensive experience and expertise as a shipbuilder and we look forward to a collaboration beginning with construction and continuing through operations for the next decade or more. This is an important step in our efforts to develop a domestic supply chain in the US for offshore wind,” says Mette H. Ottøy, chief procurement officer, Equinor.

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