AYOP interview in Seaport Magazine

Seaport Magazine has published an interview with AYOP director Dionne Ruurda. As part of the magazine’s Offshore Energy edition, Dionne explains the added value of our network association and explores the latest developments and challenges facing the offshore energy sector. Read all this and more in our translated version below.

Offshore Energy on 28 and 29 November in RAI Amsterdam


AYOP: networking and generating business


On Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 November, RAI Amsterdam will be home to Offshore Energy, the trade event for innovative technologies and solutions in a sector that is playing a crucial role in the transition to clean energy and sustainability. Network association Amsterdam IJmuiden Offshore Ports (AYOP) will be returning to the event with its distinctive pavilion featuring some 40 members from across the chain.

Taking a collaborative approach, AYOP is striving to ensure that the North Sea Canal region is the Dutch hub for offshore and energy. In practice this means bringing people and companies together in a wide range of ways.

Representing the entire sector

AYOP has grown into a network association with 125 members, including representatives from the entire offshore industry chain in the North Sea Canal region. This includes companies, regional government bodies and research & education institutes active in the traditional offshore oil & gas sectors, decommissioning, and offshore wind energy.

The members are mainly active in offshore wind maintenance (including cable logistics), drilling projects for gas exploration, adjustments to and maintenance of work vessels and platforms, and the decommissioning of offshore constructions and vessels. Other AYOP members include logistic service providers, HR companies and facility service providers.

Driven professionals

Within the framework of the energy transition, AYOP is especially focused on renewables says Dionne Ruurda, who was appointed as the association’s new director on 1 September 2023. Previously she worked for companies such as Tata Steel and Techport. “Being born and raised in Velsen, a municipality located either side of the North Sea Canal, I am very familiar with the region. The first months spent at AYOP have made a great impression. It has a very driven and professional team who work on behalf of the highly motivated and professional members. I see myself as a facilitator of collaboration between members by closely listening to what’s happening, forging connections and sharing information from the market with them.”

Dionne sees major challenges ahead for the offshore wind world. “AYOP is serving as a driving force. Our members are keen to participate and together we hold a strong position from which to manage the developments in offshore wind. We also have a brand-new team in place with chair Peter van de Meerakker, business development manager Richard Engelkes and event manager Machteld Liebregs.”

Company visits

To ensure AYOP members are closely involved in the latest developments, the network association regularly organises company visits between the members as well as taking part in exhibitions in the Netherlands and abroad. Learning from the experiences of others is key and AYOP recently travelled to the Danish city of Esbjerg to share knowledge related to offshore wind. This included issues such as how best to use the scarce space available – something that is of enormous interest to a region like the North Sea Canal.

Ideal base of operations

The construction, maintenance and management of various wind farms off the Dutch coast are creating an unparalleled spin-off of new business activities in the North Sea Canal area. Geopolitical tensions are further increasing the pressure on energy independence, which is part of the reason why the ambition of the Dutch government for wind at sea in 2030 doubled to 21 GW in realised capacity. Late last year, this ambition was upscaled even further to 50 GW in 2040 and 70 GW in 2050.

“The wind farms are being built on our doorstep,” continues Dionne. “This makes our region the ideal base of operations from which to utilise the knowledge and expertise of our members. From construction to maintenance, from crew transfer vessels to safety, the entire ecosystem for the installation and maintenance of wind farms is represented in AYOP.”

This fact makes the association a strong partner for the developers of these new wind farms. “It’s a huge benefit that the members all know each other well and you can feel the mutual support within the network. Although they all have their own businesses to run, members share a drive to put this region on the map and recognise the need to work together to move forward.”

Learning community

Foresight is the essence of management. It is not only the production processes that will change as new energy sources come into use in the near future – so too will the training needs of employees. With this in mind, AYOP is already working to establish a ‘learning community’, aligning business and education to meet the expected demands of a decade from now. “This learning community allows us to address the development of the right training options for later,” explains the AYOP director. “As a chain we will be ready for the future.”

Preparing for hydrogen

The overarching ambition is to be climate neutral by 2050 in accordance with the goals of the European Union. The energy transition offers excellent business opportunities. The wind farms at sea are essential for the transition to hydrogen, and AYOP members are preparing for its implementation in their own operations or as a supplier to the construction, operation and maintenance of wind farms. For instance, there is already a vessel that operates on hydrogen thanks to AYOP members Damen Shipyards and Windcat Workboats. The operator of crew transfer vessels signed a contract with Damen this year for the construction of even more hydrogen vessels.

A cohesive future

Although AYOP has enjoyed substantial growth in recent years, this is not a goal in itself. “The main thing is that each new member serves as a valuable addition to the association as a whole,” concludes Dionne. “There must above all be cohesion among the members as they cooperate with each other and share knowledge. Only then can we tackle the huge challenges of the energy transition.”