Atlas Renewables Business Unit launches in Australia

To celebrate the occasion, Atlas Professionals invited Dutchman Wiebe Wakker to its Perth based office. Wiebe is driving from the Netherlands to Australia in his electrical car to explore how we can all live a more sustainable life and shared his experience with the Atlas staff, who also had a look at his Blue Bandit. Next to this, Larry Thorstensen, the newly-appointed Operations Manager Renewables, outlined his new role.

First offshore wind farm

As plans for Australia’s first offshore wind farm progress, Atlas wants to make sure it has a dedicated renewables division in place to support this development.  And Larry is eager to take on the challenge as Australia enters a new industry.

“When Atlas discussed the chance to take on the renewables business, I thought this would be a positive opportunity moving forward. We are keen to add renewables into the Atlas portfolio in Australia and New Zealand, which is something very new here with the development of the first offshore wind farm. I think this is an exciting role, as well as being a challenge!” 

However, although offshore wind is in its infancy in Australia, the sector is no stranger to Atlas, which has been extensively involved in the European offshore wind market for the more than 12 years.

Larry comments: “It is a new position for myself and a new industry sector, but I will be working alongside Martine Rondeel, our offshore wind expert in the UK, and leveraging the expertise of the whole Atlas group as we develop our renewables scope in Australia.”

Australia’s first offshore wind farm - the Star of the South - is being developed by Offshore Energy Pty Ltd. and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. Star of the South wind farm is located off the south coast of Gippsland, Victoria in an area of 580 km2. The site is 10-25 km off the coast in the Bass Strait. Eventually it is expected that 250 turbines of (8-12MW) will realise a capacity of up to 2,000MW, generating 8000 gigawatt hours of energy annually. 

Leverage expertise from European experience

Larry adds: “As the project gets closer we want to establish our renewables team and as we get more of an understanding of what’s going to be required, we can leverage on our own internal experience, as well as that of the larger Atlas group, in providing a comprehensive service offering to our clients. 

“We can potentially be involved in a wide variety of areas - in marine, catering and manning on board the installation vessels; Atlas can provide crane operators, commissioning engineers, surveyors, ROV pilots and further on, the maintenance crews. We already have these skills in house.”

Atlas Professionals currently has 1,000 people working offshore in Australia in the marine, drilling, catering and seismic sectors.  “Our teams are well used to working with the strict environmental, maritime and labour regulations in Australia. We can offer something different to other agencies because we have this local knowledge and expertise.”

Larry says that renewables certainly seems to have government support as well, which should speed up the development of the sector. “In New Zealand the government recently announced that there will be no further exploration drilling, which was actually somewhat of a surprise. But this would suggest that sustainable energy is firmly on its agenda and in Australia oil is no longer the golden ticket. Gas is deemed cleaner and renewables are even better.

About Larry Thorstensen, Operations Manager Renewables

After a naval career, Larry has worked within the offshore industry in New Zealand. Having spent the last 10 years ashore in various positions in both Australia and New Zealand, he brings a wide range of experience, knowledge and skills to the team.

Following last year’s acquisition when Atlas Professionals B.V. acquired the international activities of Australia’s Programmed Maintenance Services Limited and formed a 50/50 joint venture for offshore and marine manning services in Australia and New Zealand, Larry left New Zealand and moved to Perth to support the joint venture. In August he was officially appointed the new Operations Manager Renewables.

“Everyone sees the potential, and the future looks exciting!”