Offshore wind vessel serves “seawater” to avoid generating plastic waste

16 December 2019

By filtering North Sea water for drinking, renewable energy company Ørsted avoids up to 8,000 plastic bottles per trip made by the vessel that services its offshore wind farms in Germany.


Around 80 technicians and crew members live and work on Wind of change, a service operation vessel that maintains the 230 wind turbines installed at Ørsted's offshore wind farms in northern Germany. They need clean drinking water to survive and do their jobs, which means stocking up to 5,400 plastic half-liter bottles of water for the average four-week long service trip that the vessel makes.

Photo credit: Nicolas Job

“Normally, we would buy pallets of half-liter plastic bottles of water that are handed out to the technicians and crew. But not only does that create a lot of plastic garbage, it’s not easy to find a place to store all those bottles on board the vessel,” says Andreas Luikenga, Contractor Specialist at Ørsted.

It tastes like normal water

A smarter system was needed, so Ørsted worked with the vessel supplier that built Wind of Change to set up a custom-built onboard system for desalinating and filtering seawater. The system is powered by the vessel’s hybrid electric-diesel engine and produces up to 40 cubic meters of potable water from North Sea seawater every day, helping complement the vessel’s many sustainable features.

It tastes like normal water and you will feel no difference

Andreas Lukenga, Contractor Specialist at Ørsted

Wind of Change’s sustainability features

Built at the Cemre shipyard in Turkey for French shipowner Louise Dreyfus Armateurs, the Wind of Change was commissioned in May 2019 and chartered by Ørsted. It is the company’s first customized service operations vessel and ranks among the most sustainable service operations vessels today with features including:

  • Hybrid diesel-electric engine that reduces the amount of fossil fuel needed to run the vessel and regulates the power needed to perform functions including desalination. The engine increases fuel efficiency and reduces system wear and tear.
  • Hybrid Dynamic positioning system that makes it easier to approach the offshore wind turbines, also in rough weather.
  • Special hull shape that enables the vessel to navigate between wind turbines by moving forwards and backwards at the same pace and avoid fuel-intense rotation.
  • Custom-built “shelves” for storage below deck to reduce risk of tripping and falling while increasing warehouse space.

The water is available chilled on tap
in the mess room, and at several other
points in the vessel. You can fill up your
own water bottle as many times as you
want, Luikenga says.

The vessel also uses filtered seawater
to produce carbonated water and soft
drinks from concentrates, which further
avoids plastic waste from soft drink cans
and bottles. In all, Ørsted avoids using up
to 8,000 plastic bottles per service trip.

Bottles stay on board the vessel
When technicians check in on board Wind
of change,they get either four or six
empty plastic bottles and
must register the number of bottles

They hand the bottles back when they check 
out, ensuring no bottles leave the vessel.

“The bottles are designed to be reusable 
and withstand high winds and rough weather. 
The half-liter size makes it easier to handle in
offshore situations than one-liter bottles,” 
Luikenga explains.

To ensure quality control, samples of the
filtered drinking water are sent for inspection
to the German port authorities at regular

Two people wearing bike helmets cycling along the side of a river.

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