SINGAPORE (May 20): How do you install a wind turbine almost the size of the Chrysler building in the open ocean? Just get a boat with deck space larger than a football field and a crane that can lift the weight of 1,100 Chevy Suburban SUVs.

Those specialist ships are scarce, numbering about a dozen in the world. And at a cost of more than US$300 million ($410.8 million), they each need to be capable of hoisting generators the size of shipping containers atop steel towers hundreds of feet tall.

While wind turbine manufacturers led by MHI Vestas Offshore Wind and General Electric Co (GE) are expanding the size of their machines quickly, the small cadre of mainly closely held specialist shipowners that does the installations is hesitant to build more ships before they know how big the vessels need to be. That indicates a looming ship shortage in the next decade, threatening the outlook for a sevenfold jump in offshore wind capacity by 2030.

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