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O&M Vessel Market Forecast

Published 28 December 2023

The offshore wind industry is growing rapidly, with over 850GW of capacity expected to be installed globally by 2050. This is underpinned by global commitments to reduce carbon emissions and by improving the cost efficiency of wind as an energy source.

In line with this rapid expansion, the number of vessels required to support offshore wind developments throughout their operational life will also require major growth. Here at ORE Catapult, we have conducted analysis to determine the size of the market for operations and maintenance (O&M) vessels, based on global installed capacity targets. This research has been funded by Innovate UK.

There continues to be some uncertainty in this market, largely in relation to the timelines for these large and complex infrastructure projects, evolving strategies for larger and further from shore sites, and evolving concepts of how traditional operations and maintenance approaches will integrate with floating wind. To reflect this, as well as our ‘Central Case’ we have also included ‘High Case’ and ‘Low Case’ scenarios. Up to 2050, strategies centred on Crew Transfer Vessels (CTVs) and Service Operation Vessels (SOVs) are expected to be employed. Globally, this could equate to up to 2325 CTVs and 423 SOVs in operation by 2050.

If you focus purely on the  UK rather than the global picture, the growth trend is similar, up to 223 CTVs and 79 SOVs could be required in operation by 2050. Our method of assessment for the UK market also considers a comparison with firm projects announced for 2035, assuming each farm of distance over 30km from shore employs a combined CTV and SOV strategy. We see this approach deviating slightly from the MW target-based forecast, but our market model assumes both that CTVs and SOVs are typically required earlier than project start date (i.e. during construction) and also that there may be a delay in full operation of some of the farms currently expected to be operational by 2030.


The major assumptions of our modelling include:

  • An SOV will be employed for wind farms that are sited over 30 km from shore. This is a reduction from 50km considered in our original assessment but aligns with the O&M strategies announced for current projects in the UK.
  • As turbines get bigger, the capacity supported per vessel will increase linearly between now and 2050. In reality, this trend will not be linear, but this approach allows us to consider the current averages in both the UK and Europe together with the trend seen to date to provide a best estimate of how this is likely to adapt.
  • For sites less than 30km from shore a CTV only O&M strategy is assumed. Beyond 30km from shore, CTVs will still be employed, whether operated traditionally or as a daughter craft to an SOV.
  • Globally installed offshore wind capacity rises broadly in line with announced targets, to over 850GW by 2050.

For more information about our market model please contact Molly Isaacs: molly.isaacs@ore.catapult.org.uk