Wind and Infrastructure Hope

WSP's Verschuure Sees Bright Spots for Project Cargo

By Carly Fields
Delayed investment in infrastructure and wind turbine replacement offer two bright spots on the horizon for project cargo and breakbulk movers, an audience at Breakbulk Europe was told.
Johan-Paul Verschuure, technical director with the maritime team of consultant WSP, said in a keynote speech that lagging infrastructure development in Europe will soon face a turning point where investment can be put off no longer.
“Over the last 10 years the easiest thing to save money on has been infrastructure, but at some point something will need to be done,” he said.
On renewables, Verschuure pointed out that the lifespan of installed wind turbines was initially pegged at 20-25 years. However, there are increasing concerns on whether all will reach that milestone. Therefore, replacement business could come sooner than anticipated. “Knowledge of the considered lifetimes of the wind turbines in your area is really important,” he advised.
More generally, Verschuure said the sector appeared fairly stable, in spite of attempts to knock it off kilter. Specifically, he said that WSP’s research had revealed that U.S. tariffs imposed on steel had not yet had the desired effect.
“The only region where we have seen a trend of imports declining – as President Trump intended – is the Far East, excluding China.” He conceded that for trade overall, tariffs are a “definite risk,” however steel trends cannot be quickly influenced by “slapping on a tariff.”
“We have to remember that there is a lot of trade with different regions and that shifting trade brings opportunities,” Verschuure said. “The longer the dispute goes on the more this effect will trickle down.”
Verschuure also told attendees to expect more consolidation in the breakbulk fleet in the near future. “There is a need for shipping lines to tie up and have more economies of scale in their networks,” he concluded.