11 July 2022
Innovations and current developments at Decom Live Amsterdam Event in the port
Hundreds of objects at sea will have to be dismantled and recycled in the coming years. What is the current status of this mission and which innovations can we expect in the future? These were just two of the focal points at the Decom Live Amsterdam Event, which took place at Europe’s newest yard Decom Amsterdam on 29 June. Read on for a summary of the key lessons provided by the speakers and the thoughts of various participants.
All seven speakers at the Decom Live Amsterdam Event commented on the uniqueness of the location as well as the spectacular weather on the day. And what a setting it was: the first edition of the networking event by Amsterdam IJmuiden Offshore Ports (AYOP) and Decom North Sea took place at the most recently opened decom yard in the Netherlands, Decom Amsterdam. The venue welcomed two hundred international decom professionals keen to explore the latest trends and insights while being surrounded by wind turbines, water, gas platforms and vessels – all elements that are part of the industry.
The rear of the yard was set up for the event in festival style. To the left, baristas were brewing coffee behind the bar, while a covered main stage was in place to the right for the speakers, surrounded by stands where companies from the decom sector presented themselves. Later that day, we saw a herring cart and a tuk-tuk with refreshing ice cream added to the mix.
AYOP director Sylvia Boer gave a special welcome to partner Decom North Sea, as well as the location’s host, Koole Group, and underlined that the day should also be about having fun together.
Circular wind turbine blades by Siemens
After a demonstration by the Joint Fire Brigade Amsterdam (GBA), Siemens Gamesa CEO David Molenaar took to the stage. He shared his company’s commitment to producing circular wind turbine blades by 2040, emphasising that this demands a change in mindset. While the wind industry was previously focused on making larger turbines at lower costs, we should now focus our efforts on designing a circular wind turbine. To stimulate this process, Molenaar indicated the need for a degree of standardisation, with a maximum wind turbine tip height of one thousand foot. This can only be achieved together, said Molenaar, with everyone on the same track. “Stop the race to the bottom and have the courage to aim for reductions in CO2 emissions.”
Too many regulations for long-term goals
The next speaker was Nina Vielen-Kallio, who works at transition agency ECHT and knows a great deal about circularity and the associated regulations. She shared her opinion that the EU has imposed so many waste regulations that they are distracting from the long-term goals. Vielen-Kallio offered various suggestions for improvement, including no longer seeing waste as waste but as a raw material for creating something new. “Apply this principle from the design stage,” was her advice to makers. It would also help if governments would distribute waste permits for longer periods, such as fifty years. This would give [AR1] the entire industry far more perspective and greater opportunities.
Be on time, says Heerema
Ahead of the break it was time for a warning from Antony Fievez of Heerema Marine Contractors. While the company’s vessels play a major role in decommissioning projects, Heerema is often unable to optimally respond because clients wait too long to decommission their platforms. And then there is the increasing demand from the wind sector, which is creating an even bigger gap between the demand for and availability of the contractor’s vessels. This is leading to higher prices and longer waiting times, which in turn slows down the chance of meeting the climate goals. Fievez therefore appealed to the industry to be on time and not overcomplicate contracts.
Less decommissioning due to increased oil prices
After this wake-up call visitors enjoyed a pleasant lunch on picnic tables in the sun, while Rolf de Vries from Bluestream Offshore prepared for his contribution. De Vries pointed out two major challenges of our time: increased energy prices and a reduced interest in decommissioning projects, as well as the lower capacity of heavy lifting companies (among others) due to the substantial activities on the North Sea. He believes that the solution lies in collaboration in the ‘Bluestream way’. “Operators should not think: my problem is now your problem – they should try and find ways to support each other.”
New recycling method for turbine blades
Next up was TNO’s Harald van der Mijle Meijer who set out to answer the key question of how we can recycle wind turbine blades. The research institute recently developed a brand-new method and the main challenge, according to Van der Mijle Meijer, is that all the materials in current blades are glued together, making them “a disaster to recycle.” Nonetheless, TNO has succeeded in developing the pyrolysis method with which different materials in a wind turbine blade can be separated. The plastic glass fibres do lose some of their strength with this method, which means that they can’t be reused in new blades (as yet). But the plastic does have a higher quality than in previous attempts. TNO is still looking for a partner from the wind energy sector to further develop the technology together.
Friends of NAM
The following speaker was Martha Vasquez from Boston Consulting Group who focused on the financial aspects of decommissioning. Cooperation is the only and the easiest way, she said – only then will decommissioning become attractive to oil and gas producers. Vasquez shared her hope that more producers will take the step to work together to realise goals in the long term.
“Do you want to be my friend?” With this question to the audience Rene Jansen came onto the main stage. As head of decommissioning at Shell/NAM, Jansen indicated that NAM needs to accelerate its activities in this area: while it is currently dismantling 30 wells a year, the company has some 1200 in total. With this in mind NAM is looking for more and better partnerships to move forward after.
Jansen is especially keen to find parties who are ready to work on a task as one team. He cited the so-called BMW cluster as an example in which three parties from the market worked together efficiently. An innovative approach enabled the task to be completed five times as fast as would have been the case if NAM had worked alone. Jansen: “This was a huge benefit and a major success for all parties involved.”
Challenges for decommissioning
Before the visitors headed to the bar for a Scotch whisky that will be brewed with hydrogen in the future and a Dutch herring (‘Hollandse Nieuwe’) fresh from the sea, there was one more speaker to go: Sam Long from co-organiser Decom North Sea. He zoomed in on the challenges decommissioning still has to face: finding enough staff, developing a profitable decom business model for the oil & gas industry, and properly processing waste materials.
Together with co-host Sylvia Boer, Long concluded the day with a hopeful summary: the fact that the key word of the day seems to be ‘collaboration’. Boer: “Together we can get the job done. Let’s make sure we are back here again next year with an event that is even bigger and hopefully has some great results to share as well.”
FEEDBACK FROM VISITORS
Deniz Him, business development manager at Conbit (part of Mammoet)
“Speaking to people from the sector, I’m hearing about new markets and technologies. I’m taking an entrepreneurial approach in terms of finding ways for Conbit to provide its services. And in that respect the event has been a great source of information. You can read plenty on the internet about the market, but to stay up-to-date in a proactive way requires talking to people in person. And this event is an interesting opportunity to do just that.”
Bjorn van der Maarel, business development representative at HiberHilo
“Our work at HiberHilo is to monitor oil wells with satellites. This means we are a potential service supplier for the decommissioning market, and we aim to present ourselves as such in a more active way. I’m here to learn more about the market. The presentation by David Molenaar about the circular wind turbine blades at Siemens was extremely interesting; it was completely new information to me.”
Irene ’t Hart, owner of NorthCmedia
“We are a member of AYOP and it’s great to present ourselves at times like this. NorthCmedia is active in visual communication, including for decommissioning projects. This event helps me know what projects are upcoming and who has which specialism. I was fascinated to hear about the new methods from TNO and how they recycle wind turbine blades. Because things can only be broken down well if we work together.”