It’s blowing a gale, the waves are crashing against the rocks. Cars are speeding along the asphalt. In the spring of 2019 Visser & Smit Hanab will start work at a unique location: the Afsluitdijk. The company will be laying 25 kilometres of cable to connect the high-voltage grid to a new, ‘green’ energy source: Windpark Fryslân wind farm.
“OK, so it’s only just in the water,” says Remco van Beest, pointing, “but in every respect it is a genuine offshore wind farm,” explains the project’s former tender manager, now business manager of the Cables division. The future wind farm is located in the part of the IJsselmeer lake belonging to the northern Dutch province of Friesland. With a total capacity of 320 MW, the park’s 89 turbines will be able to supply electricity to over 340,000 homes and reduce CO2 emissions by an estimated 687,000 tonnes. Visser & Smit Hanab will be responsible for the project’s ‘aorta’: two 110KV cable circuits from the middle of the Afsluitdijk to the city of Bolsward in Friesland. An unusual project for Remco and his team: “This project has it all: lots of technology, procurement and design of cables, a large slice of contract management and a very special location.”
From the strong wind and the cold to the traffic and the accessibility: working on the Afsluitdijk brings plenty of challenges. The storm season lasts from November to March when work is banned in principle. Ambulances take a long time to get here and there are no ways of diverting traffic. These circumstances underline how important safety is. Remco: “We work safely or not at all.” In addition the Department of Public Works is due to start work on reinforcing the Afsluitdijk. “This really is the Champions League of cable installation,” grins Remco. “A great calling card.”
The tender process
No surprises in terms of technology, planning and risk management: a priority for Visser & Smit Hanab right from the very first meeting with Windpark Fryslân. Openness and clarity were keywords throughout the tender process. The team studied the client’s proposal in detail from both a contractual and a technical perspective. “This enabled us to say with great precision where we wanted to deviate and why,” explains Remco. “That was very well received by the client.” Because the project was subject to approval by the Council of State the tender process took longer than normal – nearly two years. Remco is pleased with his team’s performance during that period: “We retained our focus throughout and consistently delivered the same high quality. I’m really proud of that!”
Working as a contract manager
“My work is really dynamic and varied. Providing input on tenders, sitting in on negotiations, communicating with the group, giving advice in all sorts of situations including in the case of damage or differences of opinion with the client … No two days are the same and that’s what makes it great fun. I’m really looking forward to getting to work on Windpark Fryslân, to being part of a team and working together to build something over an extended period. That’s really where my heart lies.”