A new report predicts that the helicopter fleet servicing the offshore wind market will increase by at least 100 aircraft valued at $1 billion between now and 2030.
Air & Sea Analytics said the demand will be driven by some 467 new wind projects expected to generate 267 gigawatts (GW) of electric power, a substantial increase over the 33 GW currently produced by offshore wind. The offshore wind energy infrastructure is serviced by as many as 40 helicopters, according to current estimates.
The new projects represent a combined estimated investment of more than $500 billion and “will establish offshore wind as a major industrial activity in its own right. It is already attracting some of the world’s largest equipment manufacturers and engineering contractors,” according to the report. Air & Sea said the dramatic increase in demand for wind power will be driven by its substantially lower megawatt-hour unit cost—at 57 percent of the cost of power from natural gas and 51 percent of that from nuclear. The consultancy maintains that the largest demand for wind power over the next decade will come from the UK and China, with significantly increasing demand from the U.S. and Europe.
Air & Sea Analytics predicts that mainly light medium and medium helicopters—such as the Airbus H135, H145, and H160, as well as the Leonardo AW169—will be flown to service completed offshore wind turbines but that larger helicopters such as the H175 and Sikorsky S-92 will be needed during construction. The consultancy added that offshore wind farm “crew transportation by rotorcraft will offer the lowest CO2 per passenger mile of any currently available option and the highest availability to the end-user, providing that latest-generation aircraft are used.”